Assessment still inconsistent at Hitchin’s Our Lady school, say inspectors

Our Lady Catholic Primary School. Picture: Danny Loo

Our Lady Catholic Primary School. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

A Hitchin primary school that has suspended teachers over alleged historical malpractice has been deemed by inspectors to require improvement.

Our Lady Catholic Primary School – which was deemed ‘outstanding’ across the board in 2009, when Ofsted inspectors last visited – has received an overall ‘requires improvement’ score, following visits on June 13 and 14.

Inspectors Susan Aykin, Shan Oswald and Brenda Watson gave the school ‘requires improvement’ ratings in all categories apart from personal development, behaviour and welfare, in which they gave Our Lady a ‘good’ score.

The school, an academy since 2012, is part of the Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust – which half a year ago suspended teachers there amid concerns over assessment and reporting of pupil progress in past years.

The school has since been staffed with supply teachers – with the Ofsted report referring to “severe turbulence in staffing during the past academic year”.

The inspectors wrote in their summary that “leaders, including governors” had not ensured good use of pupil assessment details, and had not provided parents and carers with “clear information about the quality of education that the school provides”.

They added: “The quality of teaching, learning and assessment is inconsistent across the school. There are marked differences in the quality of education in different year groups.”

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The report includes the remark that “leaders and teachers have reviewed the accuracy of assessment information for all year groups and adjusted some overgenerous judgements”.

It continues: “The above-average progress that Year 6 pupils achieved in reading, writing and mathematics in 2016, therefore, was not replicated in 2017. However, Year 6 pupils’ attainment and progress improved in 2018.”

The report criticises Our Lady’s teaching of reading and writing, as well as its early-years section – claiming children are “not well prepared for learning in Year 1”.

Positives cited in the report include that “the headteacher and leadership team, including governors, have secured improvements in a short period of time”, and that the pupils behave well and have attendance above the national average.

The inspectors also found most parents who gave feedback were positive about the quality of education at the school, though “a minority of parents are in opposition”.

The Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust has not responded to the Comet’s request for comment on the Ofsted report.

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