Further improvements needed at city school, report finds

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:58 14 June 2019

Valley Primary Academy in Gentry Place, Norwich, part of the Heart Education Trust. Picture: Google

Valley Primary Academy in Gentry Place, Norwich, part of the Heart Education Trust. Picture: Google


A Norwich primary school has been judged to require improvement by inspectors.

Ofsted said pupils at Valley Primary Academy who fell behind during a period of upheaval and changes in leadership had struggled to catch up.

The school in Gentry Place, which was converted to an academy in 2016, was judged to require improvement following an inspection in May, its first since 2011.

But in their report, inspectors said leaders at the school and its sponsor the Heart Education Trust were successfully improving behaviour and systematically tackled weaknesses in teaching.

Valley Primary, which is part of the Norwich Opportunity Area scheme to improve social mobility, has higher than average proportions of pupils on free school meals and with special educational needs and disabilities among its 190 children.

Inspectors praised the determination of leaders and trustees "to ensure that pupils, many of whom are disadvantaged, achieve well".

However, the report said the quality of teaching and learning and the expectations of teachers varied between classes and subjects. The "forensic" analysis of pupils' progress shown by some teachers was not practised by all and in classes where teaching was less effective, pupils were more likely to lose concentration.

Inspectors said school leaders had prioritised the development of reading skills for younger pupils; as a result the proportion of pupils able to read at the expected standard by the end of year one is rising.

Outcomes for year six pupils are also improving - although a large proportion were said to have gaps in their learning from previous poor teaching and many still fell below expected standards in 2018.

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Sara Bush, headteacher at Valley Primary Academy, said academic attainment was starting to improve after early efforts were focused on addressing "serious concerns" with behaviour and leadership.

"We have come a massively long way and the report reflects that as the areas we have been dedicated to have come out as 'good' - that is really pleasing," she said.

"We are in an area that is nationally recognised for its deprivation. A lot of our children have social and emotional needs and the fact that the report identifies us as a school that cares is really important for us."

Christina Kenna, chief executive of the Heart Education Trust, said the school had come a long way since conversion in June 2016.

"Year on year results are steadily increasing and children are making average progress in line with national standards.

"Upon conversion the trust stabilised the school by ensuring there was strong leadership and that behaviour and safeguarding were tackled as a priority.

The trust is delighted that Ofsted recognised this by grading leadership and management and behaviour and welfare as 'good'.

"The school is now a calm, purposeful and well led environment fully focused on offering a high quality curriculum and good teaching and learning outcomes.

"The trust wishes to congratulate the staff, pupils and parents at Valley for their inspection outcome which was conducted during SATs week - an already stressful and disrupting time for staff, pupils and parents.

"We will continue to work with the senior leaders who hold the highest expectations for pupils and are determined to ensure that Valley Primary Academy goes from strength to strength."

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