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Onwards and upwards as school looks towards the future

Date: 21/07/2008           Category: Learning and Achievement

A range of initiatives to improve children’s learning at a Gillingham primary school have been recognised by Ofsted inspectors, despite the school being given notice to improve. Burnt Oak Primary School in Cornwall Road, Gillingham, was formed two years ago following the amalgamation of Richmond Road Infants School and Arden Junior School, both on the same site. The final phase of the merger is due to begin this summer with the demolition of the junior school, which will be replaced with a new eco-friendly building that will incorporate a children’s centre. The headteacher, Gill Perry, and governors have a sharply accurate picture of the areas that need improvement and have already introduced a series of initiatives to improve the quality of teaching and to raise standards, particularly in literacy. Parents are noticing the improvements. One said: “I do feel the school is starting to turn a very bumpy corner; my child does enjoy school and she does seem to be learning.” The school’s behaviour support unit has been successful in tackling incidences of pupils’ bad behaviour that has disrupted their own and others’ learning. Teachers are also increasing the pace of the lessons to ensure disruption is reduced and children’s abilities are challenged. School leaders have monitored lessons and these observations have led to some improvements in teaching. These include systems for carefully tracking pupils’ progress each term. Leaders are ensuring teachers’ monitoring does not vary in accuracy and gives an accurate reflection of children’s learning. Pupils are well looked after and enjoy school. Attendance is improving because of the effective systems to promote punctuality, including self-registration. Children speak positively about the different subjects on offer in their curriculum. As part of the Intensifying Support Programme to raise standards, pupils have been given personal targets to help them focus on what they need to do to improve their work. Teachers are also making lessons more varied to keep pupils fully interested and motivated to learn. Major changes are already underway, including the redesign of the curriculum to ensure it meets pupils’ needs and interests more closely. Teachers are beginning to create links between subjects that increase pupils’ enjoyment, such as developing reading skills, in particular, their understanding of letters and sounds. There are also plans to introduce new initiatives to improve pupils’ mathematical knowledge and skills. Headteacher Gill Perry said that work is already underway to raise educational standards. She said: “Staff and governors at Burnt Oak Primary School thought the inspector’s report was fair. “We had already identified the areas of improvement before the inspection, and work is now underway to ensure our targets are met.” Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services Cllr Les Wicks said: “I am confident the staff at Burnt Oak Primary School can build on the Ofsted inspector’s comments and recommendations to continue raising standards at the school and I shall be looking to make sure that happens. “There is a lot of positive work happening at the school which will go a long way towards improving our children’s future.” Medway Council’s Director of Children and Adults Rose Collinson said: “Burnt Oak is a school which is ‘turning the corner’ and beginning to change for the better. The school’s leadership has laid the foundations and is now well placed to build on these and capitalise on pupils’ better behaviour and increasingly positive attitudes towards learning. “I am confident the headteacher, staff and governors at Burnt Oak have the commitment and determination to accelerate and improve progress and standards at the school.” Ends: Burnt Oak Primary School is in Cornwall Road, Gillingham. It cares for 400 children aged three to 11. The headteacher is Gill Perry. The inspection took place on 9 and 10 June.