Willow Park Primary School given 'inadequate' Ofsted rating as pupils have 'significant gaps'

A school where pupils have ‘significant gaps’ has been given the lowest Ofsted ranking following a recent inspection. Ofsted visited Willow Park CofE Primary School, just off St Michael’s Hill in the city centre, back in March and returned a damning report, giving the school an inadequate rating.

The primary school - which has 117 pupils aged 4 to 11 and is led by headteacher Chris Phillips - was rated ‘requires improvement’ in behaviour and attitudes and personal development, but inadequate for quality of education, leadership and early years provision.

The report stated: “Pupils do not experience a well-designed curriculum. The school has not developed a curriculum that meets pupils’ needs, including for a large proportion of pupils who speak English as an additional language (EAL).

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"As a result, pupils in all key stages have significant gaps in their learning and do not achieve well. Expectations of what pupils can achieve are too low.

“Pupils feel cared for and safe. They behave well and are courteous and kind.

"However, the curriculum is not ambitious enough and so pupils’ attitudes to learning are not always positive. Pupils become disengaged and distracted in lessons and lose focus on their learning.

Ofsted also found pupils do not learn essential knowledge they need to learn. It said: “The school has not quickly identified the areas of the curriculum that need to be developed or strengthened.

"It has not identified the important knowledge that pupils should learn across the curriculum. Pupils do not learn the essential knowledge they need to learn more and remember more.”

However, inspectors praised the school for knowing its community and for having a "new arrivals" group in place. The report continues: “Pupils are invested in the school’s vision to ‘be the light’. They enjoy being part of the school council and worship committee.

"However, there are limited opportunities for pupils to enhance their learning through broader experiences, including trips, visits and extra-curricular clubs.

“The school knows its community well. It is committed to support families who arrive mid-year and is proud about how it welcomes new children. A ‘new arrivals’ group to support transition is in place, as well as work with local partners to gain a clear understanding of individual family needs."

It added: “Governors understand that the school needs to improve. They have recently engaged in external advice to strengthen the strategic direction of the school. However, this has not had a significant impact on pupils’ outcomes. Pupils are not receiving the education they need to achieve their full potential.”

A spokesperson for Willow Park Primary School said: “We take these findings very seriously, and we are committed to taking immediate and decisive action to address the issues raised during the inspection. We have already begun developing a comprehensive improvement plan that focuses on enhancing teaching and learning practices, strengthening leadership and governance, and improving the overall educational experience for our students. This rating is not reflective of the dedication and hard work of our pupils, teachers, and staff members.”