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Hartest Church of England Primary School, near Bury St Edmunds, rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted inspectors

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A primary school near Bury St Edmunds has been rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted and told improvements are needed across the board.

Inspectors visited Hartest Church of England Primary in September and noted quality of education, personal development and early years provision, among other areas, needed improving.

Inspectors noted the quality of education was not 'ambitious or good enough' for pupils to achieve well throughout the curriculum, nor was the curriculum 'well considered'. This was the same for early years department.

Hartest Church of England Primary School has been rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted inspectors. Picture: Mark Westley.
Hartest Church of England Primary School has been rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted inspectors. Picture: Mark Westley.

The inspection focused on the primary school, and not the pre-school next door, which is run as a separate independent business.

They also found leaders were not providing training for teachers on how to use assessment to support pupils' learning and their expectations for reading were too low. Weaker readers do not get the support they need to read more fluently, they added.

Pupils are not reading well enough by the end of Key Stage 1, which in turn is having an impact on how well they could access other areas of the curriculum, inspectors said.

Meanwhile, provision for SEND pupils was 'not good enough', with expectation again too low and pupils not achieving well.

Inspectors noted some positives, including leaders and staff at the school providing a wide range of opportunities to enhance pupils' personal development.

They also noted leaders were determined the Christian ethos of the school sat 'alongside the values taught to all pupils' and pupils' behaviour was 'typically calm' and kind.

Yet, the curriculum was not providing opportunities for pupils to develop resilience, perseverance and independence, they said.

Inspectors found staff at the school were 'very positive' about working there and said leaders and governors considered their well-being and workload effectively.

However, they also noted trustees of the school had not scrutinised or challenged information provided to them which had led to the quality of education and expectations of staff and pupils being too low.

The report noted, among other improvements, leaders need to have a system in place to record safeguarding concerns about children, and the curriculum needs to be more ambitious and clearly laid out.

It added leaders need to train staff on how to deliver the school's phonics scheme effectively and check staff are teaching the scheme consistently.

Leaders need to ensure staff understand how best to meet the needs of pupils with SEND in lessons as well, they said.

Hartest Primary teaches 71 boys and girls aged between four and 11.

Since June 2017, the school has been an academy as part of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan Multi Academy Trust.

In response to the report, Amanda Woolmer, executive headteacher, said: "Everybody at Hartest is committed to providing the best education for the children and we are determined to improve in the areas highlighted by Ofsted.

“In doing this, we will benefit from the ongoing support of the Diocesan Multi Academy Trust.

“As Ofsted recognised: ‘Pupils are happy to attend school and enjoy a broad range of additional experiences’.

“We are committed to ensuring that pupils thrive at Hartest.”

Jane Sheat, CEO of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan Multi Academy Trust, added: “All schools are working hard in the context of the many challenges of the pandemic.

“We are, of course, disappointed by Ofsted’s overall judgement of Hartest CofE Primary School.

“While the inspectors recognised positive aspects of the school provision, such as pupils’ behaviour and attitudes and their personal development, they also identified a number of areas for development.

“The school has already taken steps to address these and we are confident that when the school is re-inspected, progress will be recognised.

“The school will be subject to Ofsted monitoring visits and will be re-inspected within 30 months of publication of the report.”