Birdwell Primary School

Name Birdwell Primary School
Ofsted Inspections
Address Hollis Close, Long Ashton, Bristol, BS41 9AZ
Phone Number 01275392496
Type Academy
Age Range 3-11
Religious Character Does Not Apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 439 (54% boys 46% girls)
Number of Pupils per Teacher 23.3
Academy Sponsor Birdwell School
Local Authority North Somerset
Percentage Free School Meals 6.8%
Percentage English is Not First Language 3.2%
Persistent Absence 5.6%
Pupils with SEN Support 9.8%%
Catchment Area Indicator Available Yes
Last Distance Offered Available No
Highlights from Latest Inspection

Information about the school

In this average-sized and growing school, most pupils are from White British backgrounds. Although the proportion of pupils from a variety of minority ethnic groups has increased recently, it remains below the national average, and very few pupils are new to learning English as an additional language.

The percentage of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals is below the national average. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities is a little lower than is typical nationally. Their needs are mostly related to language and communication.

Pupils in Key Stage 1 are taught in three mixed-age classes and pupils in Years 3 and 4 are taught in two mixed-age classes. There is pre-school provision and a children’s centre on site. Neither of these is managed by the school’s governing body and they did not form part of this inspection.

Since the previous inspection, there have been two substantive and two acting headteachers. Over this period, a major building project has provided new school premises. Pupils moved into new classrooms with new furniture at the beginning of this academic year.

The current headteacher took up his post in January 2011. The school is currently working towards gaining International School status.

Main findings

This is a good, well-led school with a good capacity for further development.

Several parents and carers commended the resilience, enthusiasm and effectiveness of staff over the recent period of considerable turbulence arising from changes in staffing and accommodation. It is to the credit of staff, pupils and members of the governing body that the school has made significant improvements on several fronts in spite of the potential barriers associated with such extensive change. While most teaching and learning is good rather than outstanding, pupils’ attainment has risen.

Boys and girls exceed expectations for their age in English and mathematics, and these improvements are set to continue for pupils throughout the school. Different groups of pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities, and children in the Early Years Foundation Stage, make good progress from their various starting points. Pupils behave well and their attendance is above average.

Teaching has improved and is good throughout the school. There are examples of outstanding teaching and learning in some lessons. The headteacher has modified systems for checking how well each pupil is learning to make them easier to analyse.

This contributes to assessment information being used regularly and effectively to meet the varying needs of pupils within classes. As a result, all groups of pupils make equally good progress, including those in mixed-age classes. That said, opportunities for outstanding learning are sometimes missed, because planning does not always identify the highest expectations possible for different groups of pupils.

The curriculum has improved and is now good. It provides greater interest and increased opportunities for pupils to use key skills in a variety of contexts. These improvements have contributed to the school’s success in raising boys’ achievement in writing throughout school and most significantly at Key Stage 1.

The headteacher has rapidly gained an astute understanding of the school’s context, strengths and priorities for improvement. His reorganisation of staff into teams with curriculum responsibilities enables them to work more closely together. As a result, there is greater consistency in teachers’ planning and pupils’ learning.

Although the features of the very best teaching evident in the school are not routinely shared with staff, they have more opportunities to contribute to school development than previously. Time for subject leaders to monitor their subjects is better organised and so has greater impact. Staff have embraced these changes and share high expectations of themselves and their pupils.

These strengths contribute to a shared and realistic understanding of the school’s effectiveness. Frequent dialogue about improving provision between leaders and teachers is informed by senior staff’s accurate and helpful monitoring of teaching and learning. Nevertheless, feedback to teachers does not always link the impact of teaching strategies to pupils’ learning.

The headteacher is ably supported by the Chair of the Governing body and other governors. This is a cohesive school with a strong commitment to continuing school development. This, combined with its substantial track record of significant improvement, indicates that it is well placed to fulfil its ambitions.