South Malling CofE Primary and Nursery School

Name South Malling CofE Primary and Nursery School
Ofsted Inspection Rating Good
Inspection Date 07 December 2011
Address Church Lane, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2HS
Phone Number 01273473016
Type Primary
Age Range 3-11
Religious Character Church of England
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 291 (56% boys 44% girls)
Number of Pupils per Teacher 21.4
Percentage Free School Meals 11%
Percentage English is Not First Language 3.8%

Information about the school

South Malling CofE Primary School has an average proportion of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals. Nine out of 10 pupils are White British; this is above average. Very few pupils are learning to speak English as an additional language. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities is above average, the largest group of these pupils has speech, language and communication needs. The Early Years Foundation Stage grew in size this year and now comprises two Reception classes. The school underwent many staff changes in the last two years with numerous temporary appointments, although the situation is now more stable.

Main findings

South Malling Primary is a good school. It has some outstanding features and is improving. Emerging from a period of high staff turnover and unforeseen budgetary constraints, the school has started to develop and improve. The successful promotion of good teaching has led to pupils making good progress; this is slowly having an impact on broadly average attainment levels, which are beginning to rise. The very effective inclusion of all pupils in every aspect of school life ensures that the achievement and personal development of all groups is good. Outstanding care, support and guidance ensure pupils’ personal development is good. Their very positive behaviour, cheerful outlook and warm relationships are a powerful testament to their excellent spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Pupils show a keen interest in ethical issues, such as ecology, and have a clear set of personal values. The love of music that pervades the school contributes well to their strong spiritual development. For example, as pupils enter assembly, they energetically join in the jolly hymn singing that continues until all are present, providing an uplifting start to proceedings. Lessons are generally lively and productive. The stimulating curriculum and teachers’ enthusiastic delivery keeps interest high. Perceptive questioning of pupils involves all groups in learning and provides useful checks for teachers on pupils’ understanding. However, marking is inconsistent and sometimes does not provide enough advice to pupils on how to improve. Children make a good start to their education in the Early Years Foundation Stage, progress well and quickly adopt good behaviour and learning routines. The outside area is extensive but planning to use this area is imprecise so children do not make the most of it. Outstanding work has been done by the school to engage with all families, even those that are initially reluctant to be involved. As a result, more parents and carers have become closely aware of their children’s progress and are able to contribute themselves. Parents and carers rate the school very highly. One, typical of many, reported, ‘We cannot state strongly enough how committed we feel the head and teaching staff are. They are professional yet warm, accessible and approachable.’ Accurate self-evaluation and decisive action, particularly by the headteacher, have enabled the school to move forward well, despite facing numerous barriers to progress, including many staff changes. However, a shifting staffing picture means that middle managers are currently insufficiently empowered to play their part in school improvement. Throughout the recent difficulties, the headteacher and governing body have tackled barriers to progress and maintained high ambitions; the school is now more stable and is poised to move forwards. Well-considered plans prioritise well what needs to be done and effective monitoring has led to improvements in key areas like teaching. The school has a good capacity for sustained improvement.