Topcliffe CofE Academy

Name Topcliffe CofE Academy
Ofsted Inspections
Address School Lane, Topcliffe, Thirsk, YO7 3RG
Phone Number 01845577412
Type Academy
Age Range 2-11
Religious Character Church of England
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 121 (48.8% boys 51.2% girls)
Number of Pupils per Teacher 21.7
Academy Sponsor Elevate Multi Academy Trust
Local Authority North Yorkshire
Percentage Free School Meals 13.9%
Percentage English is Not First Language 0%
Persistent Absence 4.4%
Pupils with SEN Support 21.5%%
Catchment Area Indicator Available Yes
Last Distance Offered Available No
Highlights from Latest Inspection


Topcliffe C of E Academy continues to be a good school.

What is it like to attend this school?

This is a school where pupils are happy, confident learners.

Teachers promote a strong Christian ethos and British values are endorsed through this ethos. Pupils say that behaviour is good, and this is what we saw when we were in school. Everybody has high expectations of how they should behave.

All the pupils we spoke to said that they feel safe. Some pupils told us there is some bullying in the school, but teachers deal with it well.

Pupils enjoy learning.

They are proud to show their books and tell visitors about what they are doing in class. Even the youngest children in the early years want to share their learning and play with visitors.

Adults act as good role models.

They demonstrate kindness and respect to others, which pupils copy. Adults know the pupils well. They work hard to make sure that pupils’ emotional and academic needs are met.

Virtually all the parents who responded to Parent View, the Ofsted online questionnaire, would recommend this school to other parents. Parents commented that their child ‘had flourished’ at Topcliffe and others stated, ‘a fantastic school with wonderful staff’.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

The headteacher leads her team well.

This is a small school where staff work collaboratively. All staff who we spoke to and who responded to the Ofsted questionnaire said that they feel valued. They said that their work-life balance and mental well-being are considered by senior leaders.

Members of the trust and the local governing body support this school extremely well. They ensure that teachers and leaders at Topcliffe share and develop expertise with others in the trust. The chief executive officer (CEO) of the Elevate Trust knows the school and offers challenge and support to maintain school improvement.

Most pupils read well. Younger pupils quickly learn phonics as a result of teachers’ effective phonics teaching. A love of reading is promoted across the school.

Children in Nursery visit the local library and older pupils are encouraged to read at every opportunity. Teachers use space to provide comfortable reading corners. Teachers make sure that pupils know the phonic sounds in the books they read.

Some pupils need more practice of familiar texts to become more fluent readers. Teachers know pupils need lots of opportunity to read and more time is now devoted to reading in school. The trust has developed a strategy to improve the quality of reading.

It is investing time and resources to make sure that teachers have the right resources and knowledge to implement this strategy.

Pupils enjoy mathematics. The mathematics leader is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the subject.

She does everything in her power to help other teachers teach mathematics well and to try to get pupils to love mathematics as much as she does. She ensures that learning is sequential. She carefully adapts a commercial scheme to ensure that the needs of a mixed-year group class and those pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are considered.

All teaching staff follow a strategy known as Keep Up Not Catch Up. Teachers use this strategy skilfully to make sure that all pupils, including those with SEND, get immediate support if there is any indication that they have not understood what they are being taught. Assessment systems are used well in some subjects and in others are being developed further.

The headteacher makes sure that pupils have experiences beyond the academic curriculum. Pupils take part in activities that develop knowledge and understanding about the world around them to help them become valuable members of British society. During the inspection, older pupils helped with lunches in the local community to celebrate Lent.

At other times, pupils take part in activities at off-site residential locations. Links with a commercial enterprise help pupils learn how to protect themselves in different scenarios, as well as learning about others with different circumstances and beliefs in the world today.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

All the pupils we spoke to during the inspection said that they felt safe. School leaders are thorough and plan for all eventualities. Procedures are practised, such as the lockdown procedure, and adults quickly identify and reassure pupils who are concerned following these procedures.

The designated safeguarding lead (DSL) works well with other agencies and makes sure that all staff have up-to-date knowledge of safeguarding. Detailed records are kept by the DSL. The office manager ensures that recruitment checks are thorough and recorded appropriately.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

Pupils, in the past, have not had enough time to practise their reading skills. Some still do not. This means that although some younger pupils know the sounds letters make well, they cannot blend these sounds with ease, making their reading disjointed.

For some older pupils, this lack of fluency means that they do not use punctuation well to make sense of the text. School leaders are currently investing in staff training and further resources to help improve reading. Teachers are now prioritising reading more to give pupils more time to become proficient readers.

Leaders must ensure that these improvements in reading are continued so that recent improvements seen in school continue. . Teachers’ use of assessment in core subjects is thorough and used well to influence learning.

In some of the foundation subjects, a new assessment strategy is being implemented to check what pupils are remembering. Leaders should embed this strategy further across all curriculum areas, so that teachers have an accurate picture of learning across the whole curriculum.


When we have judged a school to be good, we will then normally go into the school about once every four years to confirm that the school remains good.

This is called a section 8 inspection of a good or non-exempt outstanding school. We do not give graded judgements on a section 8 inspection. However, if we find some evidence that the school may be better than good or that standards may be declining, then the next inspection will be a section 5 inspection.

Usually this is within one to two years of the date of the section 8 inspection. If we have serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education, we will convert the section 8 inspection to a section 5 inspection immediately.

This is the second section 8 inspection since we judged the predecessor school, Topcliffe C of E Voluntary Controlled Primary School, to be good on 4–5 October 2011.