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THE EDEN VALLEY SCHOOL OFSTED REPORT
Reference: 295/01/SZ

THE EDEN VALLEY SCHOOL

Kent Education Authority

19-20 November 2001
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© CROWN COPYRIGHT 2002. This report may be reproduced in whole or in part for non-commercial educational purposes, provided that all extracts quoted are reproduced verbatim without adaptation and on condition that the source and date thereof are stated. School inspection reports are available on the OFSTED website (www.ofsted.gov.uk).
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CONTENTS

BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCHOOL
INTRODUCTION
MAIN FINDINGS
KEY ISSUES
INSPECTION FINDINGS
Standards of achievement
Quality of education
Management and efficiency of the school
Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development


IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACTION PLAN
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BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCHOOL


Name of school: The Eden Valley School

Type of school: Secondary Comprehensive

Status: Community

Age range of pupils: 11 to 16 years

Acting Headteacher: Miss S Kemsley

Address of school: Four Elms Road, Edenbridge, Kent TN8 6AD

Telephone: 01732 863152

Name and address of appropriate authority:
Kent County Council, Education and Libraries,
Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1XQ

Chair of governors: Mr N Howells

Local education authority area: Kent

Unique reference number: 118821

Name of reporting inspector: Mr M J Pipes, Additional Inspector

Dates of inspection 19-20 November 2001

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INTRODUCTION

The Eden Valley School is in Edenbridge in west Kent, on the Surrey and West Sussex borders, within easy commuting distance of London. Varied local occupations sustain a buoyant economy. There is no other secondary school within about seven miles, and the nearest is in Surrey. The Eden Valley School, which is a designated comprehensive, is adjacent to a selective area with grammar schools, to which many families try to gain entry. The attainment of the pupils joining the school, described by the local education authority (LEA) as 'wide ability', is skewed below average. The number of pupils on roll has fallen by nearly a quarter in the last year, from 298 to the current 228. The sixth form became unviable and the last of the students left in summer 2001 leaving an 11 to 16 main school population. The proportion of the pupils known to be eligible for a free school meal, just over one fifth, is above the national average. There are two pupils who speak English as an additional language. Just over half the pupils (53 per cent) are on the register of special educational needs, which is well above the national average. The percentage of pupils with Statements of Special Educational Need has increased over the last year to 5.3 per cent, well above the national average.

The school was inspected under Section 10 of the School Inspections Act 1996 by a Registered Inspector and a team of inspectors in January 1998. The inspection was critical of a number of aspects of the work of the school. The governors, headteacher and staff were urged to: strengthen the pupils' language, numeracy, and information and communication technology (ICT) skills; improve the quality of education, in particular by ensuring that all the pupils were appropriately challenged; increase the participation of the pupils in managing their own learning; make sure that resources, including staffing, were used efficiently; and work closely with the LEA to control a budget deficit. In February 2000 the LEA removed delegated powers for finance and personnel. The school's budget deficit was over £300,000. The vacancies for LEA representatives on the governing body were filled and an additional governor appointed.

The school was visited in December 2000 by two Additional Inspectors (AI) in connection with the Schools facing Challenging Circumstances Initiative to assess: the pupils' attainment and the factors affecting it; the effectiveness and impact of the actions which the school was taking to raise the pupils' attainment; and the impact of the external support which the school was receiving. The inspection raised serious concerns relating to: the pupils' behaviour; the school's poor progress overall; the low morale of the staff and the lack of corporate spirit; and the immense challenge ahead which was, nevertheless, being tackled with a strong will to succeed.

There was a further visit in May 2001 by one of the two AIs, accompanied by one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools. They were in the school for two days and again registered serious concerns but noted the determined efforts being made by the acting headteacher, the staff, the governors and the LEA. Issues for the school to focus on were identified as: giving urgent attention to the development of a clear teaching and learning policy in order to raise the pupils' attainment; improving attendance; and ensuring that scarce budget resources were used as efficiently as possible, for instance in the use of buildings.

In November 2001 the AI returned to inspect the school for two days. The inspection was carried out under Section 3 of the School Inspections Act 1996, which gives Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools the authority to cause any school to be inspected. The inspection was also deemed a Section 10 inspection under the same Act.

Twelve parts of lessons, one assembly and two registration sessions were inspected. The pupils were observed at break and lunch-times, and samples of their work were inspected. Meetings were held with the acting headteacher and with senior staff with subject and school management responsibilities. Informal discussions were held with other staff and pupils. A wide range of the school's documentation was scrutinised. Account was taken of the findings of the visits in December 2000 and May 2001.

The inspection assessed the quality of education provided and the progress the school has made, in particular in relation to the main findings and key issues in the inspection report of 1998 and the action plan prepared by the governing body to address those key issues.

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MAIN FINDINGS

In accordance with Section 14 of the School Inspections Act 1996, I am of the opinion that the school requires special measures since it is likely to fail to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education. The main findings of the inspection are:

  • the ability of the school to continue providing a sufficiently broad and balanced curriculum is in jeopardy because of: the falling pupil numbers; the mounting budget difficulties; and the need to provide for a wide range of pupil ability and motivation;
  • too many of the pupils are not achieving well enough. Standards of attainment are below average. The percentage of pupils awarded five or more GCSE grades A* to C rose from 25 per cent in 2000 to 27 per cent in 2001, but was still well below the national average, though nearer the average when compared with schools in similar circumstances. However, the percentage of the pupils who obtained no passes at any grade rose from five per cent in 2000 to 21.6 per cent in 2001. This put the school among the lowest attaining nationally on the basis of this performance indicator;
  • at Key Stage 3, the percentage of the pupils attaining the expected Level 5 in Year 9 national tests is well below average in English and below average in mathematics and science. In English, 28.6 per cent achieved Level 5 in 1999, 25 per cent in 2000 and 26.1 per cent in 2001. Approximately half of the pupils (52.2 per cent) attained Level 4 in 2001, the national expectation for Year 6 pupils about to leave primary school. Approaching a quarter of the pupils (21.7 per cent) were below that level. The very low attainment in English is a major factor in the low standards in other subjects;
  • the teaching seen during the inspection was predominantly satisfactory. The teaching of the older pupils in Years 10 and 11, at Key Stage 4, was generally satisfactory. There was, however, some unsatisfactory teaching at Key Stage 3, where the temporary or supply teachers are most often deployed. Some of the pupils, as young as Year 7, are already proving a considerable challenge for some of the teachers. Too many teachers are not meeting the wide variety of the pupils' needs by varying their approaches and strategies in different circumstances. This is a serious weakness;
  • there is a very wide variation in the behaviour and attitudes of the pupils. About a half of the pupils are quiet and hardworking. About a third, mainly older pupils, are disenchanted and disillusioned: they are not giving their best effort. About a sixth are disruptive and have a negative attitude: they absorb too much teacher time and effort keeping them under control. The behaviour and attitudes of the disruptive minority, including some of the younger pupils, are having a detrimental impact on the quality of education the school is providing;
  • the school recognises, and is making generally sound provision for, the large proportion of pupils who have special educational needs. A leaning support centre has been developed recently but the influence of this facility has yet to have an impact on attitudes and behaviour throughout the school;
  • the buildings, capable of accommodating over 600 pupils, now contain far too many teaching spaces for a school this size. Plans have been made for alternative use for some areas, but the cost of heating, cleaning and maintaining this excessive provision is a drain on the budget. Furthermore, with staff spread too thinly, there are areas in the school where pupils run about, create disturbances and are too excitable;
  • attendance is well below the national average. In the last full year it was consistently below 90 per cent in all year groups. Over the first eight weeks of the academic year 2001-02, it was below 90 per cent overall and as low as 83.5 per cent in Year 8. There is a particular problem with persistent non-attenders;
  • there have been many changes in the leadership and management of the school since the inspection in 1998. In February 2000 the LEA removed delegated powers for budget and personnel responsibilities. The headteacher and a number of the governors resigned. Since then the school has received a high level of support from the LEA and good twinning support from a local primary school and the Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls;
  • however, only 28 pupils joined the school in September 2001. The number of pupils in the school is down from 298 at the time of the last inspection to 228 at the beginning of the year 2001-02. The school now expects a further decline as a larger year group leaves to be replaced by a smaller intake;
  • the school is failing to recruit and retain a sufficient number of teachers in the shortage subject areas. Only two thirds of the teachers are on permanent contracts. Other posts are filled by a succession of supply teachers or others on short-term contracts. All but four of the teachers are new to the school in the last 18 months, and one of those four is on long-term absence due to illness;
  • the budget is burdened by an accumulated overspend of over £350,000. The LEA gave relief from interest on the outstanding sum in the current year, but in the last full account reported by governors to parents, there was an increase of a further £30,000 in the debt after a claw-back for lower pupil numbers than predicted;
  • the acting headteacher and a core of dedicated staff are working exceptionally hard to save the school from decline. They have maintained standards for the minority of higher-attaining pupils but have not been able to solve the problems created by the low-attaining pupils who are disenchanted and disaffected;
  • in formal occasions such as assemblies, there is a good social atmosphere. There is appropriate emphasis given to spiritual values and good attention to the development of moral values: the pupils certainly know the difference between right and wrong;
  • there have been recent moves to improve attitudes to learning. A newly appointed professional tutor is helping the teachers to develop strategies for motivating the disenchanted and controlling the disaffected. However, there is a persistent culture amongst a significant minority of the pupils which is anti-learning and reluctant to make the effort needed to be successful;
  • despite the best efforts of the staff and LEA, a majority of the parents living locally are choosing to send their children to other schools. With falling pupil numbers, budget difficulties and problems in recruiting and retaining teachers, the school now faces the imminent prospect of being unable to provide an acceptable standard of education for its pupils;
  • resources are generally sufficient and of reasonable quality. As numbers have declined, the school has been able to sustain levels of resources from surpluses. However, with a ratio of one teacher to every 11 or 12 pupils, the school is expensive to maintain. With current levels of expenditure and overspend, and taking into account the below-average standards, the school is currently giving poor value for money.

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KEY ISSUES

In order to improve the pupils' quality of education further, the governors, the headteacher, the senior managers, the staff and the LEA need to:

  • improve the pupils' attainment throughout the school and especially in English at Key Stage 3;
  • improve the quality of teaching and learning by extending and developing the range of strategies used by teachers, particularly to meet the needs of the disaffected pupils;
  • try to recruit a full complement of appropriately qualified and experienced teachers;
  • manage resources, especially the buildings, in such a way as to give tighter control and minimise opportunities for disruptive behaviour;
  • give particular attention to raising levels of attendance and improving the percentage of pupils obtaining at least one GCSE pass.

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INSPECTION FINDINGS

Standards of achievement

Too many of the pupils are not achieving well enough. The disparity between subjects, and the higher levels achieved by the pupils in some subjects but not others, confirms that there is too much variability in the quality of teaching and the progress made by the pupils. The major weaknesses hindering progress are: instability in the teaching force; expectations that are often too low; and the disinclination of too many pupils to put in the necessary hard work to succeed. However, where the pupils are taught well, they respond well enough to make significantly better progress.

By the end of Key Stage 4, standards of attainment are below average. Though the percentage of pupils awarded five or more GCSE grades A* to C rose from 25 per cent in 2000 to 27 per cent in 2001, the percentage obtaining no passes at any grade rose from five per cent in 2000 to 21.6 per cent in 2001. This put the school among the lowest attaining nationally on the basis of this performance indicator.

By the end of Key Stage 3, the percentage of the pupils attaining the expected Level 5 in Year 9 national tests is well below average in English: significantly lower than in mathematics or science. This is a serious weakness, which the school has been tackling as a priority.

In English, by the end of Key Stage 3, only 26 per cent achieved Level 5 in 2001, well below the national average. Two thirds of these were girls, who also out-performed the boys at the higher Level 6. Approximately half of the pupils (52.2 per cent) were at Level 4 in 2001, the national expectation for Year 6 pupils about to leave primary school. Approaching a quarter of the pupils (21.7 per cent) performed below that level. By the end of Key Stage 4, standards are below the national average but showing a slight relative improvement through the key stage. The GCSE results in 2001 showed that only 29 of the 36 pupils in the year group at the beginning of the year had been entered for the English language examination. Of the 29, 15 obtained higher level grades in the range A* to C. The English literature results were similar, with 28 entries. The very low attainment in English, particularly at Key Stage 3, is a major factor in the low standards in other subjects.

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In mathematics, by the end of Key Stage 3, only 45 per cent of the pupils achieved at least Level 5 in 2001, with the boys outnumbering the girls in the ratio 2 : 1. Nearly a third (31 per cent) were performing at Level 3 or below, the national expectation for nine-year-old pupils. By the end of Key Stage 4, standards are well below the national average. In 2001, out of an entry of 28 pupils in a year group of 36, only nine pupils obtained a higher grade A* to C.

In science, 29 pupils took the double certificate examination in 2001, covering biology, chemistry and physics. Ten pupils obtained higher-grade passes at the level A* to C. In the end-of-Key Stage 3 tests, just over half the pupils (52 per cent) reached the expected Level 5. Six pupils, five of them boys, passed at more advanced levels.

In the other subjects, GCSE results in 2001 showed, where the entry was ten or more pupils, relative strengths in technology, geography and French. These standards were confirmed by the observations of teaching during the inspection, except in modern foreign languages, where there are teacher vacancies and emergency cover routines. Standards are lower in history and physical education, also adversely affected by teacher shortages. Of the subjects with lower entries, religious education was, for a time, missing from the Key Stage 3 curriculum; ICT still suffers staffing problems; and the art teacher is on long-term absence.

Targets agreed with the LEA for 2001, based on a cohort of 37 pupils predicted at the time, were for 24.3 per cent to achieve at least five GCSE grade A* to C passes and 97.3 per cent to achieve at least one grade A* to G pass. The first of these targets was met (27 per cent) but the second was missed by a very wide margin (78.3 per cent) because of the high level of persistent absence in the year group.

Targets for 2002 have been negotiated and agreed, with a predicted number of 56 pupils in the year group. They are for at least 31 per cent to achieve five or more GCSE passes at grades A* to C and for 98 per cent to achieve at least one pass at any grade. With such a small cohort and each pupil representing nearly two per cent of the total, both figures should not be interpreted too precisely, but the second of them is unlikely to be met.

The school has undertaken some good work in analysing prior attainment to inform target setting. This shows that progress through Key Stage 3 is the major weakness, particularly in English, but with concerns in mathematics as well. To tackle these weaknesses, the school has been receiving very valuable support from the headteacher and an advanced skills teacher at Chiddingstone Primary School. They have been taking literacy lessons in Year 7, and a very good food technology lesson with the same year group was seen on an earlier visit which included a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy.

There is a very wide variation in the behaviour and attitudes of the pupils. About a half of the pupils are quiet and hardworking. About a third, mainly older pupils, are disenchanted and disillusioned: they are not giving their best effort. About a sixth are disruptive and have a negative attitude: they absorb too much teacher time and effort keeping them under control. The behaviour and attitudes of the disruptive minority are having a negative impact on the quality of education the school is able to provide for all its pupils.

During the inspection most of the pupils were polite and courteous. However, despite the efforts of senior staff to control it, some of the behaviour in the corridors was too boisterous and inconsiderate. Pupils were observed running around the school chasing each other, especially in the upstairs corridors where several of the rooms are not in use. There is a good presence of senior staff in the public areas during breaks and at lunch-time, but pupil control is taking too much of the teachers' time and attention.

Attendance is unsatisfactory. In the most recent governors' report the figures were published as 85.6 per cent for the year 2000-01. Of the 14.4 per cent absence, nearly a quarter was reported as unauthorised, well above the national average. At the time of this inspection the average attendance since the beginning of the year 2001-2 was below 90 per cent. It was only 83.5 per cent in Year 8, and 87.5 per cent in the year group taking public examinations. This is a serious weakness.

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Quality of education

The ability of the school to continue providing an acceptable standard of education and a sufficiently broad and balanced curriculum is in jeopardy because of: the falling pupil numbers; the mounting budget difficulties; and the need to provide for a wide range of pupil ability and motivation. Only 28 pupils joined the school in September 2001. The number of pupils in the school is down from 298 at the time of the last inspection to 228 at the beginning of the year 2001-02. The school now expects a further decline as a larger year group leaves to be replaced by a smaller intake.

The school also faces a considerable challenge to recover pupil motivation and commitment. On the basis of the sample of pupils spoken to and observations in the classes, about one in six of the pupils is disaffected to the point of becoming obstructive and disruptive. These are, mainly, the older pupils who have been in the school through some difficult times, but the culture has spread to a few of the younger pupils. At the time of the previous visit, in May 2001, the school had recognised the need to try to develop a culture of teaching and learning and to occupy the disaffected pupils gainfully for as high a proportion of their time as possible. It has been reasonably successful but there is a nucleus of the pupils who are not yet won over.

Twelve parts of lessons were observed during the inspection, concentrating on the teachers new to the school since the last visit. Ten of the lessons were at least satisfactory and in nearly a half the teaching was good. This matches, broadly, the quality of teaching seen on the previous visits. During this visit the teaching seen at Key Stage 4, of the older pupils, was at least satisfactory. The unsatisfactory teaching was at Key Stage 3, where some of the pupils, as young as Year 7, are already proving a considerable challenge for some of the teachers. However, this was a small sample and, taking into account the reasonable proportion of good lessons seen, teaching is satisfactory overall.

Though standards are low, the teaching of English at Key Stage 3 is now predominantly good. There is a full complement of teachers and, guided expertly by the staff from Chiddingstone Primary School, the literacy hour has been introduced successfully. The teaching of mathematics is less satisfactory. Too much of the time is spent copying from the board and completing exercises. Very little discussion about strategies and investigations was observed in the two lessons seen.

The ability of the school to continue providing a sufficiently broad and balanced curriculum is in jeopardy. This is a very serious weakness of which the school is acutely aware. At the time of the inspection in 1998, attention was drawn to difficulties in music and ICT. These have been solved in part by the appointment of an acting headteacher who is expert in both. However, with fewer than 20 teachers, albeit for only 228 pupils, there are increasing difficulties finding the expertise necessary where there is not enough demand to sustain a full-time subject specialist.

The school has made good progress in introducing systematic schemes of assessment to track the progress of the pupils. The pupils who have special educational needs have sound individual education plans and make satisfactory progress. Regular testing, for instance in science, when associated with explanations about what is needed to improve, is received well by the pupils. The school now has the means to predict what the pupils ought to be achieving. These forecasts show that there is room for improvement and that progress is too slow at present. The predictions are informing the challenging targets set and agreed with the LEA.

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Management and efficiency of the school

There have been many changes in the leadership and management of the school since the inspection in 1998. In February 2000, the LEA removed delegated powers for budget and personnel responsibilities. The headteacher and a number of the governors resigned. Since then the school has received a high level of support from the LEA and good twinning support from a local primary school and the Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls. There is an acting headteacher, on secondment from a deputy headship at The Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls. There is an appropriate senior management structure, enhanced with the recent appointment, though only on a temporary basis, of an experienced professional tutor to support and assist the teachers.

The acting headteacher and a core of dedicated staff are working exceptionally hard to save the school from decline. They have maintained standards for the minority of higher-attaining pupils but have not been able to solve the problems created by the low-attaining pupils who are disenchanted and disaffected.

The school has been experiencing acute difficulty in recruiting teachers. At the time of the inspection, slightly under two thirds of the teachers were on permanent contracts. The remaining third included some on short-term contracts and supply teachers on a regular or irregular basis. Of the complement of 19.8 full-time equivalent teachers required, only 12.6 posts are filled by permanent teachers attending regularly. Daily supply teachers provided by agencies to cover two of the vacancies are costing the school well above average, from a budget already under severe strain.

The school faces daunting budgetary constraints. The need to live within a diminishing income as pupil numbers fall, and the burden of an accumulated overspend of about £350,000, restricts planning for the staffing necessary to provide a full and balanced curriculum. For the last two years, the school has planned a curriculum and timetable for a total number of pupils which has subsequently reduced. This has meant repaying some of the funding allocated under the LEA's formula. The LEA has removed delegated powers for the budget and staffing and is managing these aspects centrally. The financial situation is a serious weakness and the outlook holds no hope of improvement.

The buildings, designed for over 600 pupils, now contain far too many teaching spaces for a school of this size. Plans have been made for alternative use for some areas, but the cost of heating, cleaning and maintaining this excessive provision is a drain on the budget. Furthermore, with staff spread too thinly, there are areas in the school where pupils run about, create disturbances and are too excitable.

Resources are generally sufficient and of reasonable quality. As numbers have declined, the school has been able to sustain levels of resources from surpluses. However, with a ratio of one teacher to every 11 or 12 pupils, the school is expensive to maintain. With current levels of expenditure and overspend and taking into account the below average standards, the school is currently giving poor value for money.

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Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development

The ethos of the school is friendly and supportive. However, there has been too great a need for, and emphasis on, containment and control recently. At the end of the visit in May 2001, the school was advised to give greater emphasis to improving teaching and learning. However, the expectations of some of the teachers are still too low and the pace of their lessons too slow, giving time for distraction and disruption. At lunch and break-times, a core of the pupils, mainly but not exclusively the older boys, amuse themselves by running around the buildings and being a nuisance.

The level and quality of the support, advice and guidance for the pupils are satisfactory and have been improving recently. A small but increasingly effective pupil-support facility has been opened this year. It is proving effective as a base for special needs teaching and management and, increasingly, for pupils whose behaviour is disruptive and unacceptable in mainstream classes. The teachers know all the pupils well and claim this as a strength in this small school.

In formal occasions such as assemblies, there is a good social atmosphere. There is appropriate emphasis given to spiritual values and good attention to the development of moral values: the pupils certainly know the difference between right and wrong.

There have been recent moves to improve attitudes to learning. A newly appointed professional tutor is helping the teachers to develop strategies for motivating the disenchanted and controlling the disaffected. However, there is a persistent culture amongst a significant minority of the pupils which is anti-learning and reluctant to make the effort needed to be successful.

In a predominantly white community, there is little daily practical need for multicultural sensitivity. However, due attention is given to preparing the pupils for life in a multicultural society and there is good recognition of heritage, culture and tradition.

The time and effort taken by teachers to meet the needs of the pupils are recognised and appreciated by the pupils and their parents. There is a clear sense of community but a sad recognition that the school is in decline.

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IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACTION PLAN

The following were the key issues raised at the time of the last full inspection in February 1998.

Key Issue 1: increase the participation of the pupils in their learning by: ensuring systematic record keeping of attendance; developing a strategy to improve attendance; devising strategies to give pupils more responsibility for their learning; refining targets so that the pupils understand how to improve; making more use of the library and ICT to promote independent learning; setting more homework

The school has made only limited progress on this key issue. Attendance is now recorded and analysed systematically but has not improved sufficiently. There is still too much teacher-dominated learning, with the pupils expected to be passive recipients of superior knowledge. However, in areas where good teacher appointments have been made, the school is moving towards a greater involvement of the pupils in their learning and target setting. The school has introduced ICT successfully: the acting headteacher is an expert in this field, as well as a musician. The library is, however, in the remoter part of the under-used buildings. Pupils going to the library pass unused rooms and the temptation to be boisterous is such that use of the facility for independent learning is restricted.

Key Issue 2: improving the quality of education by: providing a wider range of activities in lessons so that all pupils, including those attaining highly, are appropriately challenged; extending enhancement opportunities (clubs and cultural activities); taking full account of individual education plans in all lessons; improving strategies for involving pupils with behavioural difficulties in their work; ensuring that the requirements of the national curriculum are met in full (in music and ICT)

There has been only limited progress with this series of issues. Staffing difficulties have curtailed attempts to broaden the range of strategies employed to motivate the disaffected pupils and give sufficient challenge to the higher attaining pupils. There has been some progress where good appointments have been made, for instance in science and in design and technology. The input of the headteacher and a teacher from a neighbouring primary school has been beneficial. The National Curriculum requirements are now met. The pupils who have special educational needs have individual education plans, but not all teachers refer to them regularly enough. Enhancement opportunities have become increasingly limited, as the number of pupils and teachers has fallen.

Key Issue 3: strengthen the pupils' language, numeracy and ICT skills across the curriculum:

There has been reasonable progress on this key issue. The National Literacy Strategy has been introduced and a local primary school headteacher has been giving demonstrations and helping with some of the teaching. However, literacy skills are generally weak and undermine progress across the curriculum. The National Numeracy Strategy has been introduced, but staffing difficulties have impeded progress. The school now has satisfactory ICT resources and sufficient expertise. This area is now satisfactory. There is appropriate awareness of these initiatives across the curriculum, and in the lessons seen, in whatever subject, there was reference to these basic skills.

Key Issue 4: improving the efficiency with which resources are used, particularly staffing and learning resources, through: regular use of teacher appraisal and in-service training; increasing the availability of textbooks; rationalising the responsibilities of teaching staff; reviewing the deployment of support staff; optimising the use of special educational needs staff

There has been reasonable progress on this key issue. A programme for performance management has been introduced and the first review undertaken, but there have been problems because of the high proportion of temporary and supply teachers. Monitoring of teaching has occurred but is not systematic enough. The reduction in pupil numbers has meant there are more resources per pupil. There is now a clear management structure and responsibilities are clear. Support staff are deployed sensibly. The recent establishment of a learning-support facility has given better focus to the use of special needs support staff.

Key Issue 5: continuing to work closely with the local authority to control the budget deficit.

This situation has continued to deteriorate and is a cause for very serious concern. There has been no progress with this situation. The LEA removed delegated powers, the head resigned and the deficit continued to grow. Falling numbers have triggered claw-back demands and the total deficit is now over £350,000. The outlook holds no hope of improvement.

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