Overall effectiveness of the school – Grade 1, Outstanding

Uplands Infant School provides an outstanding education. It is an exceptional school where truly ‘every child matters’. All staff share a passion and commitment to ensuring pupils of all abilities and backgrounds achieve as well as they can and that their personal and academic needs are effectively met. This results in pupils’ outstanding achievement. Children start school with a much narrower range of skills and experiences than is expected for their age and with little knowledge of English. Despite this-well-below average beginning, children make excellent progress to reach standards that are significantly higher than those attained by other schools in similar circumstances. This excellent achievement is the result of many very positive elements.

The personal and pastoral care given to all pupils is exemplary and all safeguarding procedures are rigorous. They consequently feel safe and secure and grow in confidence not only in the adults around them, but also in their own abilities. Teachers and support staff together provide a range of successful teaching styles that support and engage pupils, ensuring they make excellent progress in their learning. Notable is the strength of the strategies and support for pupils in learning English. Pupils’ abilities and needs are identified quickly so that the right levels of support are given, both in the use of their home language to promote good understanding and in additional activities to help them absorb an increasing range of vocabulary and skills. By the end of Year 2, standards are in line with the national average and a good proportion of pupils reach the higher levels. Standards in pupils’ writing and mathematics are higher than in reading because, although they make good progress, pupils’ full understanding of the meaning of words in the text they are reading is still developing. This is the school’s continuing focus for improvement.

Uplands Infant School provides an outstanding education. It is an exceptional school where truly ‘every child matters’.

Ofsted Report, 2009

Excellent progress starts in the Early Years Foundation Stage, where a wide range of opportunities are provided for children to learn through their own interests, to experiment and explore under the sensitive care and inventive skills of the teachers and other staff. In Years 1 and 2 their learning continues to grow because of the skilled teaching and an outstanding curriculum that very effectively engages children’s keen interest and the desire to do well. Teachers use positive strategies to help pupils understand how to succeed. Pupils thoroughly enjoy their activities and this is another reason for their excellent progress. The curriculum promotes pupils’ personal development extremely well. They develop a thorough understanding of how to develop healthy lifestyles and how to keep safe. Pupils behave extremely well, showing care for one another. Pupils’ spiritual development and cultural understanding is excellent. The school builds on children’s strong religious heritage and promotes their respect and understanding of each other’s beliefs and cultures. This, and pupils’ good learning skills and ability to work together collaboratively, ensures they are extremely well prepared for the next stages of their learning and the world beyond.

The school recognises the strong family bonds that surround their pupils and the importance of parents as co-educators. To this end they have developed very good systems that encourage parents into school to gain a greater understanding of what their children are learning. A large proportion of mums, dads and carers come in to enjoy the ‘Early Bird’ sessions each morning with their child. Families from all sides of the community say they feel welcomed into the school, that there is a strong sense of harmony. The school works extremely hard to improve the below average attendance and it is now rising. The pupils play an important part in improving the life of the school community through the work of the school council, and they work with members of the local community both in and out of school. Pupils also have good opportunities to meet Inspection Report: Uplands Infant School, 4 February 2009 4 of 9 children in other schools where there is a very different mix of cultures and backgrounds. Newly-arrived families to the area are welcomed into the school by staff who talk to them in their first language. This supports the whole family and so children settle more quickly. Parents who in other circumstances might be difficult to reach feel part of the school community. Through its many activities here and abroad the school is strongly promoting community cohesion.

It is the outstanding leadership of the headteacher that has created this extraordinary school despite its difficult building. She has developed an exceptionally strong team of senior leaders who in their own ways provide excellent leadership and management for the school. All staff play their part in reviewing and evaluating the school’s provision. They have a secure understanding of the school’s strengths but are modest in their recognition of achievements and so some of the school’s judgements do not always reflect the full quality of their work. They are well supported by the work of the governors and there is outstanding capacity for further improvement.

Effectiveness of the Early Years Foundation Stage – Grade 1, Outstanding

The effectiveness of the Early Years Foundation Stage is excellent and children make very good progress through Nursery and Reception classes (F1 and F2). Children enjoy coming to school and play well on their own as well as with others. They share very good relationships with adults and other children. Staff have an excellent understanding of how children learn and support them very well by talking to them in their home tongue. This supports their understanding in all areas of the curriculum as well as effectively promoting their understanding of English. Staff encourage children’s own ideas. There is a strong focus on providing stimulating resources and opportunities to learn through children’s own choice of activities, which they support and extend. Children behave very well and show great enthusiasm about their learning. They feel safe and are kept safe. Children’s learning and welfare needs are extremely well met and there are good links with outside agencies to support children with specific needs. Very good links with parents ensure there are good levels of communication about children’s welfare and learning. The Early Years Foundation Stage team is extremely well led and staff work closely together. The role of key workers has recently been extended into the Reception classes and all adults now play an important part in assessing children’s progress and in identifying their next steps. The senior staff analyse information from these assessments to set appropriate new goals for improvement.

What the school should do to improve further
Develop an increasing range of strategies to support children’s understanding of what they read so standards in reading rise to equal those in writing.

The school welcomed the feedback from the Ofsted inspector and is confident that any further inspection would recognise the hard work that all stakeholders have made since the last inspection to ensure the school remains outstanding.