Swallow Dell Primary and Nursery School believes its downgraded Ofsted rating that went from 'good' to 'requires improvement' is not accurate. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Welwyn Garden City school on Blackthorn Road received a 'good' Ofsted rating in 2017 and 2013. This is its first inspection since 2017. 

The report stated that "pupils value the opportunities that leaders put in place for them to take on responsibilities within the classroom and across the school." 

It revealed "pupils do not learn as well as they could because leaders’ ambition for them is not high enough and too many pupils have fallen behind where they should be." 

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Ofsted added: "In a small number of subjects where leaders have carefully designed the curriculum, teachers break down the important information into small component steps." 

"As a result, pupils are not able to build their knowledge cumulatively over time. They struggle to recall prior learning as it is not embedded in their long-term memory." 

Headteacher Clare Hollingsworth said: "Although we are disappointed the school was graded 'requires improvement', we believe the school has continued to strive forwards on its journey. 

"I would like to emphasise that this was a snapshot of the school and we do not feel the commentary of the report accurately reflects the strengths of the school that inspectors saw and articulated during their visit." 

The report added that "teaching in phonics reflects the broader inconsistencies in curriculum design and implementation and it does not give teachers the level of rigour and detail they need to help children learn to read." 

It also added that the books given to pupils do not match their phonetic knowledge and they find reading unnecessarily hard. 

Clare added: "Many of the areas highlighted had already been identified by the school for continued improvement, and we have specific plans to address these areas. 

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"However, the pace of implementation and our ability to demonstrate the impact of recent changes has been hindered by COVID-19 disruptions and the changes to the inspection framework." 

On a more positive note, the report said that children in early years are happy, and leaders have ensured pupils with special needs are able to adapt to help them succeed.

The headteacher added: "It is important to note that a school that is judged as requires improvement is not a failing school.  

"If we all continue to work together, we are confident we will be able to continue developing into a school community, which reflects all of our efforts, and one we can be truly proud of." 

The full report can be found at files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50217258.