School once rated 'outstanding' now 'requires improvement', Ofsted says

A primary school in Wells once rated 'outstanding' now 'requires improvement' after a recent inspection. Horrington Primary School was found to require improvement in four out of five key areas by Ofsted.

The report read: "Horrington primary has been through a turbulent time. There have been recent changes to leadership, staffing and the way in which classes are organised.

"Leaders have a strong vision and high expectations. Pupils are adapting well to the new arrangements."

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The report continued: "There is a clear plan of action to increase pupils’ knowledge of the school’s curriculum. However, currently, pupils do not achieve as well as they should."

Inspectors did observe some positives, such as sporting activities and school trips: "The personal development of pupils is a strength of the school. Pupils take part in sporting competitions and events.

"Pupils make visits to places of interest, such as Glastonbury Abbey and events, such as Wells Literature Festival. Through opportunities such as these, they develop a broad understanding of life beyond their village."

Children at Horrington have opportunities to develop their independence and become good role models to younger pupils: "Pupils are proud of the responsibilities they hold. These include being school councillors and house captains.

"Pupils develop independence through such leadership positions. Pupils understand what it means to be a good role model.

"Older pupils are ‘buddies’ to the youngest children and help them to settle into school."

British values were found to be an important part of the children's learning experience: "Pupils have a comprehensive understanding of British values. They know what is meant by ‘individual liberty’, for example.

"Pupils make thoughtful links between democracy and opportunities to vote within school. They talk with knowledge about protected characteristics."

Despite Horrington's strengths, inspectors were concerned about the quality of the curriculum. The report continues: "The school has made many positive alterations to the curriculum recently.

"However, there is still significant work to do to ensure that pupils benefit from this. In many subjects, the curriculum is not yet fully developed or implemented.

"Consequently, pupils are not supported well enough to build up their subject knowledge. Where the curriculum is established, regular checks are not made on how well pupils understand the curriculum.

Inspectors concluded: "Therefore, some pupils move on to new learning with ongoing gaps in their knowledge."

The school was found to have improved how they teach children to read: "The school now prioritises reading. Now, as soon as children start school, they are fully immersed in stories, books and rhymes.

"At this stage, children read books that match the sounds they know. However, due to the legacy of the previous reading curriculum, some older pupils do not have the skills and knowledge they need to read with fluency.

"Such pupils do not always receive effective support to help them to catch up."

Horrington also faced criticism for its handling of special educational needs. The report read: "While there is some effective work to support pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), some pupils do not benefit from this.

"This is because the school does not always identify pupils’ academic needs promptly."

Similarly, the report raised concerns about student behaviour: "The school has not ensured that expected routines and learning behaviours are consistently applied. As a result, some poor behaviour disrupts learning.

"The school should ensure that the agreed approach to managing pupils’ behaviour is put in place and understood by all."

Finally, the report noted that the school is working to improve: "The school and the trust have the necessary expertise to remedy the areas that require improvement. Their actions have begun to have some positive impact on pupils’ experiences at the school."

Horrington Primary School is a mixed-gender academy with students aged between four and 11. The school has been approached for comment.