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Attendance is the key - Mile Cross Primary head explains reasons for “good” Ofsted report

09:00 07 March 2014

Children celebrate with head Stuart Allen at Mile Cross primary. Photo: Bill Smith

Children celebrate with head Stuart Allen at Mile Cross primary. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

Improving attendance has been the key to improving performance at a primary school serving a deprived area, its headteacher said after receiving a positive Ofsted report.

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Inspectors judged Mile Cross Primary School as “good”, compared to “satisfactory” in 2012, and said it has the capacity for sustained improvement.

The report said children enter the 452-pupil school with skills and understanding that are low compared with the levels expected nationally for their age, but “they make consistently good progress in the nursery and outstanding progress by the end of the reception year where their attainment in each area of learning is close to the levels expected nationally for their ages”.

Headteacher Stuart Allen said: “For us, the real focus as a whole school has been about improving attendance.

“We have a huge success story in that our attendance is improving year-on-year. We are at 97.1%; the national standard is 95%.”

He said the school focused on attendance every day, and class attendance was part of each teacher’s performance management.

Mr Allen said the school put an emphasis on a reward, rather than discipline, system to encourage attendance, and last Christmas 300 students with a 100% record enjoyed a free trip to the pantomime.

He added: “It’s the children who drive it now. Previously it was very much the staff, but we have done it for a while and the children now drive it.

“For the most part, they just want to be in the school.”

The report said: “By the end of Year 6, from their different starting points, the proportions of pupils making expected progress is close to the national average and those exceeding expectations are above the national average.”

Mr Allen said the school had invested heavily in nursery and foundation levels so that all children are able to catch up, and it had made sure all its work concentrated on long-term strategies, rather than quick fixes.

He said the school works closely with parents, which was “quite hard at first”, and holds reading Thursdays for parents to read with children, fun Fridays for maths games, and presentation assemblies every half term.

What is the key to school improvement? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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