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Ofsted upgrades Fir Tree Primary School from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’

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A Newbury primary school has been rated “good” in its latest Ofsted inspection, upgraded from “requires improvement” in 2018, writes Lars Mucklejohn.

Fir Tree Primary School and Nursery, which is part of the Newbury Academy Trust, was visited by inspectors at the beginning of May and the new report found that it “is well led and managed” by leaders sharing a “clear vision and common moral purpose”.

Lindsay Wood was appointed associate headteacher in September 2018 and the report found that she and the trust had “brought about significant improvement since the last inspection” and “led the redevelopment of the whole curriculum”.

Head teacher at Fir Tree School, Lindsay Wood, was praised in the report
Head teacher at Fir Tree School, Lindsay Wood, was praised in the report

Parents told inspectors that she had “transformed the school”.

In a letter to parents, Mrs Wood said: “I think this report is a huge reflection of the hard work that everyone - staff, community and of course pupils - all put in to make Fir Tree such an amazing school, where our children grow and flourish.

"As a school, and with the support of the trust, we will continue to improve in those areas identified for further development, and I will ensure every element of our work reaches the highest possible standards.”

Executive headteacher Charlotte Wilson added: “I am so proud of Mrs Wood and all the staff, pupils and families at Fir Tree. This outcome is truly deserved and recognises the hard work and effort every single person has played in achieving this result.”

The report described a “clear and coherent culture of safeguarding” and pointed out that pupils were “very happy” and “confident that school adults will keep them safe”.

An improvement was seen in teaching, with classrooms “settled, calm and purposeful” and pupils moving around the school “safely and sensibly”.

Under a redeveloped English curriculum, teachers had “high expectations” and helped “more pupils to develop their enjoyment of reading”.

Mathematics was a “real strength” for the school and used a “well-sequenced curriculum” that addressed potential gaps in learning from the Covid-19 pandemic, the report said.

Pupils at Fir Tree School in Newbury celebrate a 'Good' Ofsted
Pupils at Fir Tree School in Newbury celebrate a 'Good' Ofsted

It added that “almost all children, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities” were “achieving well” in the subject.

It further stated that the school’s leadership had “carefully considered the development of the wider curriculum to ensure that pupils benefit from a rich and broad range of experiences”.

Parents had also highlighted recent improvements to Fir Tree’s outdoor facilities, and Ofsted found that these provisions were “really making a difference, particularly following the pandemic when children were not able to play outdoors as often”.

The 2018 report had found that leadership at the school had “not ensured that the school provides a good standard of education”. It described the quality of teaching as “variable”, with “low-level disruption” in some lessons and attainment below the national average. Some parents were concerned about frequent staff changes.

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