'Outstanding' WGC primary school now requires improvement
Matthew Smith, Local Democracy Reporter
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A Welwyn Garden City primary school which held an outstanding Ofsted rating for 15 years has received the shock news that it now requires improvement.
Inspectors gave Templewood Primary School, in Pentley Park, the new rating after saying “pupils do not gain the essential knowledge and skills that they need to achieve as well as they should”.
The school had been exempted from routine inspections since its last inspection because no concerns had been raised about the school since being rated as outstanding.
Since that inspection, Ofsted has changed school assessments and Templewood had seven different headteachers.
Despite the second lowest grade, the inspectors said new headteacher Katherine Martindill has a “clear vision” on how to improve the school.
Inspectors Cindy Impey and Kristian Hewitt said the significant changes in leadership and staffing had hindered governors from providing a suitable level of challenge to school leaders.
“The new headteacher has a clear vision and has accurately identified what leaders need to do to improve pupils’ learning across the curriculum.“
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The inspectors also raised concern that the curriculum was not “planned well enough in all subjects”, and in some subjects teachers do not always check pupils’ understanding well enough to build on their prior learning.
“Values such as respect and kindness are at the heart of the school’s work. Pupils learn about different faiths and religions. They recognise and respect differences. They talk about the value of learning from different cultures.”
The inspectors said pupils particularly enjoy creative activities and the “majority of parents say that their children are happy and safe”.
“Staff are overwhelmingly supportive of leaders and are proud to work at the school.”
Inspectors said the school need to ensure the weaknesses identified are reflected within their school development plans with appropriate actions to address each one.
Leaders should also ensure the school’s curriculum is planned and sequenced in all subjects so teaching staff know what leaders want pupils to learn, and ensure the reading curriculum specifies precisely the skills they want pupils to learn.
They should ensure pupils continue to build on their reading skills from nursery through to Year 6 so gaps are identified sooner and pupils who fall behind catch up quickly.
Headteacher Miss Martindill, who joined the school in September, responded: "We will build on the many positive aspects of our school, as well as thoroughly addressing those areas that Ofsted have identified. I was pleased that the inspectors recognised my “clear vision” for the school’s future and that I have accurately identified priorities to improve pupils’ learning across the curriculum.
“I am genuinely excited about its future. I feel privileged to lead a team of staff who are committed to making sure that children at Templewood get the best quality education.”