The Ofsted report for a school in Letchworth, which has a "broad and ambitious curriculum that is securely focused on ensuring all pupils achieve well", has been published.

Garden City Academy has retained its rating of good from Ofsted, following the education watchdog's latest inspection. 

Headteacher Samantha Ruck said: "As headteacher, I am so proud of this recognition as it is an endorsement of the hard work, energy and commitment of pupils, staff, governors, parents and carers."

Read the full Ofsted report below.

What is it like to attend this school?

Garden City Academy is a happy school. Pupils speak proudly of the ‘GCA way’. They say confidently that, ‘This is the way we do it here.’ They respond well to the school’s high expectations of their behaviour and achievement. In the Nursery and Reception classes, children settle into routines quickly. They learn to share and to take turns with the supportive guidance from adults. Pupils of all ages enjoy rhymes, stories and reading.

Break and lunchtimes are sociable events. Pupils play and dance to music, together with school staff as well as with their peers. Staff are kind and helpful if pupils worry.

Pupils like the access to the range of experiences beyond the classroom, including the highly valued ‘11 before 11’ opportunities, such as ‘sleeping under the stars’, hiking and the residential trip to France. In-school elections for pupil parliament representatives are competitive and taken seriously. Parliament members serve their school community very well. Ideas, such as for increased sustainability and the ‘diversity diner’, which celebrates different cultures, are carefully thought out and effectively implemented. Pupils are typically well prepared to move into secondary education at the end of Year 6.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

The school’s broad and ambitious curriculum is securely focused on ensuring that all pupils achieve well in this small and inclusive school community. In recent times, significant staffing changes interrupted aspects of ongoing improvement planning. The trust acted swiftly with support to keep the quality of education on track. Well-considered developments, for example, to address historically weaker outcomes in reading and writing for pupils at the end of Key Stage 2 are proving successful. Important aspects of writing are specifically taught and regularly revisited. Ensuring that pupils read well is a priority.

Across year groups, pupils’ achievement is improving. Some pupils join the school at different stages, including late in Years 5 and 6. These pupils often make good progress from when they join the school, but sometimes they are less successful in national tests.

Many staff, including some subject leaders, are new. This means that, in a few subjects, the curriculum is still developing as the school evaluates what is working well and what needs to continue to improve. Occasionally, there is a mismatch between the intended learning and the activities teachers set. When this happens, pupils sometimes do not learn as much, or as deeply, as they could.

Promoting a love of reading is at the heart of the school’s curriculum for pupils of all ages.

In the Reception class, children sound their letters with pride and enthusiasm. Regular practise, using books matching the sounds that children know, helps pupils to secure reading accuracy and fluency over time. Pupils who need it get help to catch up. The school’s ‘book nook’ provides a quiet space for pupils to read and to select books to read at home.

Teachers make regular checks on pupils’ learning. They correct misconceptions quickly.

The high proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are well supported. The special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) makes sure that staff have the information and guidance required to meet pupils’ needs effectively. Teaching staff adapt tasks, for example, using smaller steps, so that pupils with SEND access a similar curriculum to their peers.

Most pupils behave well. Children in the Nursery and Reception classes work and play together cooperatively. Where sometimes pupils struggle to manage their feelings, extra support helps them to improve. Respectful relationships are the norm. Pupils are supportive and encouraging to each other. They enjoy school and typically attend regularly. However, a few pupils do not attend school as often as they should. This is despite the school’s determined efforts to continue to reduce absence. Where pupils are persistently absent, they fall behind and miss the rich experiences beyond the classroom.

Pupils’ personal development is well catered for. They learn about other cultures and the importance of healthy relationships. Opportunities for educational visits and to hear from visiting speakers, such as authors, artists and scientists enhance their learning experiences. Pupils are proud of their leadership responsibilities, which contribute well to the whole school community.

Staff appreciate the support from leaders, including from the trust and the local governing body. They work collaboratively with leaders, taking advantage of the professional development on offer. The focus on continuous improvement is strong. Ensuring that staff’s workload is manageable, and the security of their well-being, are leadership priorities.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

A period of significant staffing changes has disrupted plans to embed improvements to leaders’ ambitious curriculum in a few subjects. New subject leaders are still developing their skills in checking the quality of provision in their areas of responsibility. As a result, there is sometimes a mismatch between the planned learning and the activities teachers set. Where this happens, pupils do not learn as much as they could. The school should ensure that any further staff training should be completed quickly, so that pupils achieve well in all aspects of their learning.

 Some pupils do not attend school as often as they should. This limits the learning of these pupils, and they miss the range of wider opportunities available to them. The school should continue to strengthen its efforts to secure the regular attendance of all pupils.