Partnership of Huntingdonshire schools begins to reap the rewards of teamwork

St Helen's deputy head Emma Smith and executive head Judith Branch celebrate a good Ofted with pupil

St Helen's deputy head Emma Smith and executive head Judith Branch celebrate a good Ofted with pupils. - Credit: Archant

St Helen’s Primary School in Bluntisham is celebrating after its improvement in standards was acknowledged by Ofsted.

The school has been upgraded from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ in all categories - leadership and management, behaviour and safety of pupils, quality of teaching, achievement of pupils, and early years provision.

Oftsed inspectors said that teaching was consistently good and that well-planned lessons capture pupils’ enthusiasm, making them eager to learn.

They added: “The executive headteacher [Julie Branch] and head of school [Emma Smith] have rapidly improved the quality of teaching so that pupils’ progress is good and improving. They set high expectations for pupils’ achievement and make regular checks on their progress and attainment.

“The quality of teaching is now good because, with the support of the local authority, senior leaders have provided high-quality training to extend the skills of teachers and teaching assistants.

“Pupils are enthusiastic, friendly and caring. They feel safe, and their behaviour in and out of class is good.

“The formal federation of St Helen’s and Holywell C of E Primary School has been a key reason for the school’s rapid improvement. The executive headteacher has made good use of this link to introduce outstanding practice into the school and drive up standards.”

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They also highlighted that the governors support the school well and that children in Reception class get off to a good start because of the interesting and engaging range of activities on offer.

However, they said it was not yet an outstanding school because the level of challenge for the most-able pupils is not as high in mathematics as it is in English, and fewer of these pupils reach the higher levels than is the case in reading and writing.

They also suggested teaching included more about other cultures or political issues nationally to gain a full understanding of life in modern Britain.

Mrs Branch said: “We are so pleased that the hard work of all in the team – including parents and pupils – has been recognised. St Helen’s is a great school and we are all looking forward to developing our federation working.

“One benefit is that staff from two small village schools can share planning and ideas - the impact of this has already been seen very positively in both establishments.

“We are all eager for continued success and look forward to our next chapter at St Helen’s.”