|Name||St Paul’s Walden Primary School|
|Ofsted Inspection Rating||Good|
|Inspection Date||17 January 2011|
|Address||Bendish Lane, Whitwell, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, SG4 8HX|
|Religious Character||Does not apply|
|Number of Pupils||104 (55% boys 45% girls)|
|Number of Pupils per Teacher||33.1|
|Percentage Free School Meals||3.8%|
|Percentage English is Not First Language||1%|
|Pupils with SEN Support||7.7%|
|Catchment Area Information Available||Yes, our catchment area data is FREE|
|Last Distance Offered Information Available||Yes|
Information about the school
St Paul’s Walden is much smaller than most primary schools. As a result, pupils are usually taught in classes containing more than one year group. There are some changes to groupings each year to accommodate variations in the size of each year group. Most pupils are from White British families and a very small minority are from a range of minority ethnic backgrounds. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities is above average. There have been many changes to staff and within the governing body since the school’s last inspection. Children join the Early Years Foundation Stage each September into the Reception class, which also contains pupils in Year 1. At the time of this inspection, this class was being taught by another member of staff while the usual class teacher was absent due to illness. There is a Nursery on the school site, but it is not run by the school’s governing body and was not included as part of this inspection. The school holds the International School and Eco-School awards and has Healthy Schools and Active Sportsmark status.
St Paul’s Walden is a good school. This position represents a strong level of improvement since the school’s last inspection, when its overall effectiveness was found to be satisfactory. As a result of securing important improvements to the quality of provision, pupils across the school are making good progress and attainment is above average. Written comments from parents and carers show that they recognise and appreciate how well the school has moved on. Pupils, too, express many positive views about what the school provides for them, its friendliness and, most especially, the care they receive from adults. Their enthusiasm and excellent behaviour contribute much to their good achievement. So, too, does their above average attendance. The governing body and staff are ambitious for the school and their focused dedication underpins a good capacity to bring about further improvement. In particular, the governing body plays a highly active role in supporting curriculum initiatives and the development of leadership and management. At the same time, it also provides considerable challenge as a result of its detailed knowledge of the school and close monitoring. Indeed, self-evaluation as a whole is well developed. Subject leaders are closely involved in influencing and checking performance. The analysis of assessment data is robust and directs curriculum planning and improvement to academic achievement at whole-school, year group and individual pupil levels. Additional help for those at risk of underachievement is, therefore, carefully targeted. New initiatives have injected further challenge and interest into lessons, leading to a good overall quality of teaching. Confidence in their use still varies to some degree, however, and the sometimes satisfactory teaching lacks the generally good use of discussion and questioning to explore and challenge pupils’ thinking. Similarly, while refinements to the marking of pupils’ work are developing well, some are not yet fully embedded in practice. For example, opportunities are sometimes missed to provide detailed information, especially in mathematics, and to ensure that pupils always respond to written feedback. The school recognises that staff do not yet make full use of marking to correct and improve pupils’ spelling. Pupils benefit from a rich and varied curriculum. Links with other schools, the use of specialist expertise and projects like the ’Forest School’ are all used to expand pupils’ academic and personal experience. These opportunities are popular with pupils and a very large majority take advantage of the school’s wide-ranging clubs, including sporting activities. They make a considerable contribution to the school, the local community and further afield through, for example, a great deal of collaborative working in school, attendance at local parish council meetings and direct and sustained support for communities in Africa. Pupils talk enthusiastically about their many roles and responsibilities in school, for instance as ’Eco-warriors’ and play leaders, and about the school clubs they initiate and run.