Rich learning environment at thriving Barnstaple primary

Posted on: 8 May 2017

One of Barnstaple’s largest primary schools has again been rated as good by independent inspectors who say it provides a rich learning environment with many stimulating resources to help children learn.

The inspectors say that every parent they quizzed would recommend Orchard Vale Community School to other families.

Orchard Vale was last inspected by the school standards agency, Ofsted, in 2011 when it was rated good. Since then it was one of the founder members of the Ventrus multi-academy trust which also runs Pilton Community College and has just been selected to open a new 420-place primary in Bideford.

Two inspectors visited Orchard Vale in March and in a letter to Head of School, Fiona Pearce, they say:

“This school continues to be good.

“The leadership team has maintained the good quality of education in the school since the last inspection. Under your strong leadership, the school continues to thrive.

“You are very well supported by other leaders in the school (who) are working very well as a team, learning from each other and from other schools across the multi-academy trust.

“Governors are very well informed about the school They, too, are playing an important role in the school’s continuous push for improvement supported by Ventrus.

“The executive headteacher, the chief executive officer and other officers of the trust provide important support in, for example, teacher development and training.

“As a consequence of this highly effective leadership at all levels, the school has addressed the areas for improvement from the previous inspection with great success.

“Teaching provides a consistently high level of challenge to pupils across the school, from Reception to Year 6. In addition, the early years foundation stage has improved rapidly.

“All the parents who responded to Ofsted’s online survey, Parent View, would recommend the school to another parent. This is no surprise, as staff have ensured that Orchard Vale provides a rich learning environment, replete with many stimulating resources to help children learn.”

Lead inspector Stephen Lee says in 2016 all pupils reached the expected standard in reading in external tests and made exceptionally strong progress. Pupils currently in the school are making similarly rapid progress, he says.

The school’s leadership is demonstrating a very good capacity to sustain high attainment and fast progress in reading for pupils.

Extensive scrutiny of pupils’ work also shows they are making good progress in maths from their individual starting points.

The extremely strong leadership of the Early Years Foundation Stage has transformed provision. Children learn well and, as a result of a high level of challenge, make good, and in many cases rapid, progress.

There is a strong culture of safeguarding and pupils say they feel safe.

To continue to improve, the school should ensure that the teaching of maths continues to build on recent initiatives and pupils in Key Stage 2 make faster progress and that the outdoor space in the Early Years is developed even further to enhance children’s learning.

Head of School Fiona Pearce said:

“I would like to thank the pupils, staff and parents alike for their contributions to our recent highly positive Ofsted inspection.

“We are delighted that we continue to be a good school with strong leadership that is constantly striving for improvement so that every child’s experience at Orchard Vale is the best that it can possibly be and prepares them well for whatever lies ahead.”

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