Balfour Primary Inspection - June 2021
Dear Balfour families,
As you will be aware, we had an Ofsted section 8 monitoring visit on 15th June. A section 8 inspection does not change the grading of a school but evaluates whether leaders are taking effective action to address the areas of improvement from the previous section 5 inspection, which for Balfour was in February 2020.
The lead inspector commented that they are aware that leaders and all staff are working in highly unusual and challenging times and despite this, they can see very clear evidence of the work the leaders have undertaken to address the area for improvement and the progress that is subsequently being made.
The lead inspector stated they make a single judgement as to whether leaders are taking effective action in order to become a 'good' school. Although I cannot share too much information prior to the report being published, it was a positive day.
In the feedback meeting at the end of the day on Tuesday, the lead inspector discussed what they had seen during the inspection in relation to each of the areas for improvement from the previous inspection. I have summarised these below.
There is a clear curriculum for each subject and the sequencing of these had been carefully considered. The curriculum provided a solid base to build pupil knowledge over time and careful consideration had been made as to how the impact of the curriculum is monitored. Due to the lockdowns and the length of time that pupils have spent in school during this time, it is not yet possible to evaluate how well the intended curriculum for each subject is implemented in the classroom.
There has been a culture shift seem in terms of how staff view and teach pupils with SEND and there have been significant improvements in teachers understanding how to best meet the needs of SEND pupils in the classroom. This continues to be a focus to ensure that this is consistent in all aspects of school life.
Reading and phonics curriculum:
The reading curriculum has been significantly strengthened. There was a clear focus on the love of reading and book selection was ambitious and across a range of different genres, incorporating diversity. Consideration had been given as to how pupils were being supported with the reading.
The impact of our phonics curriculum can be seen through the excellent results in our KS1 phonics screening assessments. With a new statutory requirement for schools to implement one of the Department for Educations validated systematic synthetic phonics programmes from 2022, in collaboration with other schools in the local authority, the school will be looking at the most suitable scheme for its pupils.
Coaching approaches have been developed to help build teacher expertise and there is a culture of professional growth.
We are not complacent and recognise there will always be areas to improve further, but we can be confident that we are moving very quickly in the right direction. Parents/carers are an integral part of this improvement and I will be looking at more ways to involve and collaborate with you on our improvement journey. I always welcome feedback and urge you to contact me if there is anything you would like to discuss or feel that I have not yet considered within the school.
Thank you for all of your continued support and I very much look forward to seeing more of you in person as we progress along the final stages of the government's roadmap to recovery.