Village school given ‘good’ Ofsted sees pupil numbers rise
- Credit: Simon Parkin
A village school judged to be ‘good’ in its first Ofsted report since becoming an academy has seen an increase in pupil numbers.
Beeston Primary School, near Dereham, was praised by Ofsted in its first inspection in seven years for having undergone “significant improvement” since becoming part of the Unity Education Trust in 2017.
Inspectors said staff were “dedicated to providing pupils with a full and rich curriculum”, while classrooms are “vibrant” and the atmosphere “purposeful and focused on learning”, with reading a “high priority”.
MORE: Headteachers warn schools can only fully reopen in September if social distancing is droppedThe report said: “Justifiably, leaders have concentrated on raising standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Leaders have worked closely with the multi-academy trust to enrich the quality of teaching in these subjects.”
Headteacher Justin Blocksidge, who took over 18 months before the inspection, said the small village school was now attracting pupils from beyond its catchment area, with numbers having risen from 49 when he started to 61 currently and a further rise expected in September.
“For rural schools like ours to maintain them they have to have numbers, so by working hard at the progress of the school also have the benefit of encouraging parents maybe not in the area to join,” he said.
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He said the school was delighted with the Ofsted rating, adding: “We have really good support from parents and from governors and our Friends of Beeston School.
“It’s great to have a school that feels very much part of the community which helps what we are trying to do.”
MORE: Trust’s bid for funding to add to popular outdoor classroomMr Blocksidge, whose previous experience was in secondary education, having worked at Northgate High School in Dereham, said one innovation he had introduced was new ‘forest schools’ encouraging children to learn outdoors.
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“It’s about learning outdoors whatever the weather, working with others, things like working with wood, cooking over open fires, making dens and camps,” he said.
“It’s all the things that I know I did when I was their age but that people are nowadays more reticent about allowing them to do.
“The pupils absolutely love it. In the winter they get absolutely filthy, but in terms of the enthusiasm for learning it’s been tremendous.”