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Pupils’ “strong academic achievement” praised as Heronshaw School is rated Good by Ofsted

Heronshaw School, part of the Inspiring Futures through Learning (IFtL) multi-academy trust, has been graded Good by Ofsted – with inspectors recognising Outstanding areas of practice in behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and early years provision. In addition, quality of education, and leadership and management, were rated as Good in the report.

In a two-day visit of the 229-pupil school for 4-7 year olds, Ofsted inspectors met with senior leaders, a range of subject leaders, and representatives of the local governing body and IFtL. They conducted deep dives in early reading, mathematics, science and geography, which involved speaking to subject leaders, class teachers and pupils, visiting lessons, looking at pupils’ work and listening to pupils read.

During their visit in November, inspectors also spoke with a number of parents and considered responses to Ofsted’s online survey, Parent View, as well as the views of staff through their responses to other surveys. Safeguarding was scrutinised, and inspectors concluded that “leaders have a strong culture of safeguarding” with “clear systems in place to identify pupils who are at risk of harm” and that “governors are meticulous in how they oversee safeguarding including the safer recruitment of new staff”.

Other comments in the published report included:
• Staff know each pupil well and put them at the heart of everything they do. Leaders have high expectations for all.
• Pupils’ strong academic achievement goes hand-in-hand with the wealth of personal skills and qualities that staff support pupils to nurture and develop.
• Pupils are happy and feel safe. Bullying is extremely rare and never tolerated.
• Pupils know that staff are there to help and that they can share their concerns and worries with them.
• There are extensive opportunities for pupils to enrich their learning, gain independence and take responsibility.
• Pupils throughout the school behave exceptionally well. They know that their teachers have high ambitions for them, which encourages them to always try their best.
• Pupils listen carefully in lessons, which teachers adapt skilfully to include everyone, especially those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).
• Trust leaders and those responsible for governance are equally as ambitious for pupils’ academic and social success.
• Staff are very proud to work at this school, and they appreciate the support they receive to improve professionally and maintain their well-being.
• Leaders are mindful of staff workload and do all they can to manage this effectively.

Last year an Ofsted report into previously Outstanding-rated schools found that 83% had been downgraded in full inspections in 2021-22. This followed the introduction of the 2019 Education Inspection Framework which changed the nature of what Ofsted inspects, especially in relation to the curriculum, and a more stringent approach to grading leading to national education leaders warning Ofsted that it may have created a “misleading” picture of declining standards.

Jamie Ainscow, Headteacher at Heronshaw School, said: “We are pleased with the overwhelmingly positive report we have received. We recognise the national picture for many previously Outstanding-rated schools to subsequently be rated Good, or lower, and in this context, I am especially pleased with the recognition of pupils’ strong academic achievements going hand-in-hand with personal development, as we continue to develop innovative and inspirational learning experiences for the children. We are absolutely committed to delivering a robustly-planned and child-centred curriculum that both challenges and engages children in their learning while deepening and extending their knowledge. I would like to thank our incredible staff and governors for their passion for the school. There are always areas for improvement and these are linked to areas that were already identified and are being actioned as part of the school development plan.”

Sarah Bennett, CEO of IFtL, explained: “Colleagues at Heronshaw School work tirelessly to ensure the best possible educational experience for all pupils, including supporting individual levels of need. The Ofsted report gives clear examples of excellence in their approach to the curriculum and helping children to learn, as well as the wide range of clubs, activities and experiences that pupils relish and which support their character development. Beyond the Ofsted report, academic performance and attendance figures at Heronshaw are above the national average. The school is a source of pride for us all and I particularly hold close to my heart the recognition of our values of working as one big family, as is exemplified by the line in the report on how pupils help school staff to create inclusive classrooms and shared environments, where everyone is valued.”

Heronshaw School’s Chair of Governors, Danielle Chapman, added: “I am delighted that Ofsted has recognised the Outstanding quality of our early years provision and that the children’s behaviours and attitudes were also considered to be Outstanding. I am especially happy that Ofsted recognised the strong academic achievement of our children. I remain incredibly proud of all the hard work that our staff and children contribute on a daily basis to make Heronshaw the amazing place that it is.”

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