Monday, 15 August 2022

School retains ‘good’ rating for third time

School retains ‘good’ rating for third time

A SCHOOL in Henley has retained its “good” rating for a third time.

Valley Road Primary School was inspected by education watchdog Ofsted on two days in March.

In his report, lead inspector James Broadridge said caring relationships were at the heart of the school and pupils’ behaviour was impeccable.

He praised the school for engaging in the cultural life of Henley to broaden the children’s experience and said core subjects were taught to a high quality.

Mr Broadridge said: “Pupils’ knowledge journey is clearly set out from reception to year 6.

“Staff work in small teams to lead all subjects. This enables shared expertise and wider professional development.”

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, most pupils were firmly on track with those in need of extra help prioritised daily.

Older pupils were found to be avid readers and the school’s library had a diverse range of books.

Mr Broadridge said: “What is so heartwarming is that pupils donate books to the library. They are keen to spread the joy of reading to others.”

However, the report did note that on occasion tasks in some subjects were not challenging enough as teachers put the emphasis on capturing pupils’ interest through creative activities.

Timothy Coulson, who has led the 190-pupil school for 15 years, said: “We were very pleased the school was recognised for what it is and it’s great that things like attitude, ethos and approach are central to inspections.

“There are a lot of positives and the most important thing for us is that they got our ethos — if the children are happy, they are going to learn.

“When a parent is thinking about sending their child to us and they look around the school, the real question is, ‘Is this the right school for our children?’

“I was very proud the inspector picked up on the work of the senior team in delivering the curriculum and of the staff who were able to give evidence of all they were doing and that their hard work was recognised. We have been putting a lot of work into it.

“It was a good time to have an inspection as it showed we are going in the right direction.”

Mr Coulson put the school’s success with home schooling during the coronavirus pandemic down to good communication and positivity. He said: “The most important thing for us was using Teams.

“We found that if you have strong communication the school will continue even if you are not in the building.

“Having a positive frame of mind was also essential: ‘This is tough, but we are going to get through it together’.

“And you cannot underestimate what parents did to keep their children on track.”

Mr Coulson said accepted the inspector’s remarks about ensuring more creative activities were fully linked to the curriculum.

He said: “While you have to ensure focus, if the one thing you are pulled up on is that you are trying to make learning fun, that’s not too much of a problem.”

The biggest challenge facing all schools now was financial.

Mr Coulson said: “Family heating bills are going through the roof. Schools are looking at heating costs doubling.

“The question is, if you are going to pay for this, what are you not going to pay for? My job is to ensure that teachers and pupils do not notice that.”

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters

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