|Name||Halton Community Combined School|
|Ofsted Inspection Rating||Outstanding|
|Inspection Date||01 February 2011|
|Address||Tring Road, Halton, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP22 5PN|
|Religious Character||Does Not Apply|
|Number of Pupils||223 (47% boys 53% girls)|
|Number of Pupils per Teacher||25.4|
|Percentage Free School Meals||3.3%|
|Percentage English is Not First Language||7.6%|
Information about the school
Halton is a small school. About 70% of pupils are from service backgrounds, mainly from the nearby Royal Air Force (RAF) base. The proportion of pupils joining after the start of Reception and leaving the school before the end of Year 6 is very high. The percentage of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds, including those who speak English as an additional language, is below average. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities is above average. The school has National Healthy Schools status. A breakfast club and an after-school club are run by the school daily. The headteacher has been in post for just over two years. At the time of the inspection, Key Stage 2 pupils had just moved into temporary accommodation on the staff car park pending the school being re-roofed. The school shares a site with a private nursery, which is subject to a separate inspection.
Halton is an outstanding school. In a relatively short time, the headteacher has transformed it, from one causing concern to the local authority into a vibrant thriving learning community, with 100% of pupils attaining the expected Level 4 in reading, writing and mathematics in the 2010 Year 6 national tests. The school was among the five most improved primary schools in England last year. Despite potentially challenging barriers to learning, including the very high number of pupils arriving and departing throughout the school year, almost all pupils make good or better progress. This is because of the outstanding drive and determination shown by the headteacher and her staff in getting to know and understand the pupils and their families, so that they can tailor individualised learning programmes to meet their differing needs. Pupils often arrive from abroad at very little notice and without records, and this may be their fifth or sixth school. At any given time, some pupils may have a parent serving in Afghanistan or the Falkland Islands on tours of duty ranging between four and nine months. The school has developed excellent systems to help pupils settle quickly and to accelerate their learning. The pioneering initiative to appoint a family support coordinator with expertise in working with service families ensured the emotional well-being of pupils and their families was at the forefront of the school’s work, and this has created a safe and stress-free environment in which pupils flourish. Parents are delighted with the work of the school, and the very many heartfelt testimonies to the help they and their children have received pay tribute to the dedication and effectiveness of the school staff. One parent wrote, ’Halton Combined Community School should be proud of its inclusive, varied and positive approach to teaching, learning and communication.’ Parents’ immense satisfaction was summed up by the parent who commented, ’Halton school, its pupils and staff are a credit to the community .. a wonderful journey our family has been able to witness.’ Teaching and learning are consistently good. Lessons are planned to excite and interest pupils with innovative units of work that enable them to achieve well. The outstanding curriculum ensures that topics are presented in radically different ways to what pupils may have experienced at other schools, creating high quality memorable experiences for them to take away with them to their next school. The school has been successful in securing grants for innovative projects to develop the curriculum such as working with the Royal Horticultural Society on inter-cropping. There is good provision in the Early Years Foundation Stage, giving children a stimulating and enjoyable start to their education. Good progress has been made in developing the outdoor area, and in ensuring children have plenty of opportunities to initiate their own learning. Record keeping is regular, but not systematic enough to build up sufficiently comprehensive portfolios of how each child is performing in all the six areas of learning. Assessment information is stored in a variety of formats, making it difficult to access everything that is recorded about each individual child. Pupils’ behaviour is outstanding: they show great consideration for one another, supporting one another as play leaders and road safety officers, and working together very well in class. They have adapted to their temporary classrooms and the restricted space very well. Outstanding leadership from the headteacher has given a powerful new vision to staff, and created an overcoming culture that has taken on a compelling momentum, enabling very rapid improvements to take place. Rigorous self-evaluation procedures ensure staff have a very accurate view of the school’s performance and are focused on key areas for development. The school pays meticulous attention to detail, for example, by ensuring arrangements to ensure pupils are safe and protected are exemplary, keeping parents extremely well informed or making sure that there are no gaps in the performance of any groups of pupils. The school has made excellent progress since its last inspection, improving the judgements grades in many areas, and has an outstanding capacity for further improvement.