Bury St Edmunds: ‘Surge’ in parent support helps school improve


- Credit: Archant © 2004

OFSTED has praised a school that has enjoyed a “surge” in the number of parents coming in to read with children since it was placed in special measures.

Tollgate Primary in Bury St Edmunds entered special measures in January and has now had its first monitoring inspection.

The school had been given a critical report after it was visited by Ofsted inspectors late last year and was placed under close observation and told to make a string of improvements.

It had its first monitoring inspection on March 21 and Her Majesty’s Inspector Robert Lovett has given headteacher David Hicks some positive feedback about the progress being made at the Tollgate Lane site.

In his section eight report, he said: “The headteacher now has a sharper focus on pupils’ achievement and on how the quality of teaching will impact on pupils’ progress.

“The school has begun to strengthen the partnership with parents.

The recent open evening, followed by opportunities for parents to join their children to enjoy reading together, has resulted in more pupils being heard at home. There has been a surge in volunteers coming into school to support pupils’ reading.

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“The governing body is now better placed to hold the school to account. It has drawn up a governors’ action plan, has a sharper focus on pupils’ achievement and a greater sense of urgency.

“Members of the governing body have a better understanding of the school’s achievement data and how this can help them benchmark pupils’ achievement against how well pupils are doing nationally.”

He added: “The local authority is providing significant support for the school. It has brokered advice for the headteacher from a successful headteacher, and reviewed the quality of teaching.”

Mr Lovett said the local authority’s statement of action and the school’s improvement plan were both fit for purpose, but said it could still not appoint newly-qualified teachers.

Mr Hicks said he was “very pleased” by the report and he was confident that when Mr Lovett returns to carry out classroom observations later in the term, he will see further signs of improvements.

He said: “The inspector felt the plan we had put together was fit for purpose and covered the correct areas in order to address the targets we are trying to meet.

“When I read the reference to a ‘surge’ in parent support I was very pleased. We have been trying to encourage more parents to come in and help us with reading in school and with reading at home as well. We have also now set up a parent forum in which we meet with parents to discuss issues.

“We are pleased with the initial findings from the meeting and the inspector also did a learning walk around the school.”

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