THE headteacher of a Barnsley primary school which was one of the borough’s high flyers before being significantly downgraded by Ofsted has said the judgement ‘doesn’t fully reflect’ her school.
Silkstone Primary School has been rated as ‘outstanding’ for more than a decade since its last inspection in 2008, and has consistently placed high in the annual school league tables.
However, a recent visit by inspectors Chris Cook and Marcus Newby found falling standards in the school’s previously lauded teaching and learning.
“Leaders have designed a well-sequenced curriculum,” the report said. “However, most pupils have gaps in their knowledge and skills from curriculum shortcomings in previous years.
“Current plans do not show what these gaps are or how teachers intend to fill them. The quality of the teaching of the curriculum varies.
“Many teachers do not deal with pupils’ errors and misconceptions. The quality of pupils’ work is not as high as it could be.
“Many pupils struggle to remember knowledge from previous teaching.”
The observations, which led to the school being handed a ‘requires improvement’ rating, are a far cry from the 210-place school’s last inspection - which praised its ‘rigorous and systematic’ assessment and the quality of teaching and the effect these had on achievement levels.
In a letter sent to parents, headteacher Sally Adams noted ‘long periods of uncertainty in leadership and a lack of funding’ since its last judgement more than a decade ago had affected the school’s performance.
“While fully accepting that there are improvements to be made, we feel that the final report does not fully reflect our school and the many positives identified by the inspection,” she said.
“The report is a snapshot and does not acknowledge the amount of work undertaken to address the needs of the school or take into account the severe financial difficulties we continue to face.”
Positively, inspectors noted that reading - a ‘high priority’ for the school - is a strength, with pupils reading fluently and those falling behind receiving extra support.
Work in maths was also noted as being well-structured, and pupils enjoyed coming to school and had strong personal development, with high levels of attendance.
Mrs Adams said some observations, such as an increase in pupils missing school and inconsistent feedback, had already been tackled with closer monitoring and more attention paid to marking policies.
She added: “We have worked really hard over the past two years to improve our school, so although as a staff team we are feeling bruised and battered by the judgement, we know that together with hard work and determination we will succeed.”