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«Georgetown Primary School, Queensberry Unit and Nursery Class Dumfries Dumfries and Galloway Council 19 January 2010 HM Inspectorate of Education ...»

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Georgetown Primary

School, Queensberry Unit

and Nursery Class


Dumfries and Galloway


19 January 2010

HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) inspects schools in order to

let parents1, children and the local community know whether their

school2 provides a good education. Inspectors also discuss with

school staff how they can improve the quality of education.

At the beginning of the inspection, we ask the headteacher and

staff about the strengths of the school, what needs to improve, and how they know. We use the information they give us to help us plan what we are going to look at. During the inspection, we go into classes and join other activities in which children are involved. We also gather the views of children, parents, staff and members of the local community. We find their views very helpful and use them together with the other information we have collected to arrive at our view of the quality of education.

This report tells you what we found during the inspection and the quality of education in the school. We describe how well children are doing, how good the school is at helping them to learn and how well it cares for them. We comment on how well staff, parents and children work together and how they go about improving the school. We also comment on how well the school works with other groups in the community, including services which support children. Finally, we focus on how well the school is led and how staff help the school achieve its aims.

If you would like to learn more about our inspection of the school, please visit www.hmie.gov.uk. Here you can find analyses of questionnaire returns from children, parents and staff. We will not provide questionnaire analyses where the numbers of returns are so small that they could identify individuals. Where applicable, you will also be able to find descriptions of good practice in the school.

1 Throughout this report, the term ‘parents’ should be taken to include foster carers, residential care staff and carers who are relatives or friends.

2 The term ‘school’ includes the nursery class or classes where appropriate.


1. The school

2. Particular strengths of the school

3. How well do children learn and achieve?

4. How well do staff work with others to support children’s learning?

5. Are staff and children actively involved in improving their school community?

6. Does the school have high expectations of all children?

7. Does the school have a clear sense of direction?

8. What happens next?

1. The school Georgetown Primary School is a non-denominational school with a nursery class. It serves an area to the south of Dumfries. The inspection also included the work of the Queensberry Unit which provides education for primary and secondary age children and young people from across the authority with severe and complex learning needs. The roll was 296, in addition to 79 in the nursery and eight in the Unit when the inspection was carried out inNovember 2009.

Children’s attendance was above the national average in 2007/2008.

A new headteacher had been in post for nine weeks.

–  –  –

• Children’s behaviour, enthusiasm and engagement in their learning.

• Commitment of staff to enriching children’s learning through providing a range of opportunities for wider achievement.

• The positive learning environment, supportive staff team and approaches to inclusion across the school which are having a positive impact on all children.

• The school’s work in supporting children at risk of underachieving.

3. How well do children learn and achieve?

Learning and achievement Children in the nursery are motivated and actively involved in their play experiences. They can plan and initiate their learning and enjoy making choices. At the primary stages, almost all children engage well in their learning and work conscientiously on tasks set by their teachers. Across classes children are planning their learning by identifying key questions to explore. In the unit, almost all children and young people are enthusiastically engaged in learning most of the time. Across the school, almost all children feel safe, respected and confident. From the earliest stages children cooperate well with each other. Children are not yet sufficiently clear about their progress or involved in setting targets to improve their work.

Staff plan a broad range of activities to widen children’s experiences including trips and visiting speakers. In the nursery, children have been very successful in a school gardening competition. After-school clubs such as cookery, cheerleading, gardening, sport and recorders 2 are popular with children and help to develop their interests and talents. The school has plans to include more opportunities for younger children. Several children have achieved success in chess, quiz, golf and handwriting competitions. Children achieve citizenship awards which recognise their individual achievements. Children and young people in the unit have their achievements displayed and visits and outings recognised through photographic displays. All participate in assemblies and a few have had their achievements recognised in the local media.

Children in the nursery listen and respond well to stories and can contribute to discussions. Almost all demonstrate good listening skills.

They talk well and can share their imaginative ideas. Their emerging writing skills need more practice. The majority of children within the unit are making positive progress in their learning. Most children in the primary stages achieve appropriate national levels in reading, writing and mathematics. Attainment in writing is improving. It has been variable in reading year on year and remained stable in mathematics.

The majority of children at all stages achieve appropriate levels earlier than would normally be expected. Children listen attentively in lessons and in small group discussions and partner work. Most children read well but there is scope to extend their reading of Scot’s language literature. Most children write well for a range of purposes but do not have regular opportunities to complete extended pieces of writing. In mathematics children carry out mental calculations competently but are less accurate with written calculations. Children’s skills in problem solving need to be developed more evenly across stages.

Curriculum and meeting learning needs

Staff provide a broad curriculum and are implementing aspects of Curriculum for Excellence well. For example, they have made a good start to planning how to link children’s learning across the curriculum.

Visiting specialists in music, art and physical education contribute effectively to delivering the curriculum. The school does not yet provide all children with two hours of good quality physical education each week. Children benefit from well planned opportunities to 3 develop their understanding of sustainability and to develop their citizenship skills. Staff have a flexible approach to enhancing the skills of vulnerable children through the provision of life skills, swimming and cookery classes. The school needs a more consistent focus on enterprise at all stages. School guidelines and teachers’ planning need to be improved to ensure that children’s learning is built on effectively as they progress through the school. The Queensberry Unit has an appropriate curriculum with relevant programmes of study drawn from a wide range of materials.

In the nursery, staff plan effectively a wide range of activities to meet children’s needs. They have appropriate arrangements to identify children with additional support needs. At the primary stages, tasks, activities and resources are appropriate to meet the learning needs of most children. Tasks and activities in both English language and mathematics are too easy for higher attaining children. Staff work well together to identify, at an early stage, children who require additional assistance with their learning. Children requiring additional support have clear learning targets and support for learning staff provide well-focused help to enable them to progress. While the majority of teachers provide detailed feedback to children about their progress this practice is not yet consistent across the school. Homework is not yet regular or varied enough to help children reinforce their learning.

4. How well do staff work with others to support children’s learning?

The school works well with its supportive Parent Council. Children tell parents what they are learning, for example, in open-afternoons and assemblies. Staff are working with other local schools to improve children’s literacy levels. Improvements in working with other professionals have resulted in better planning and outcomes for children across the school. A variety of health professionals provide teaching staff with very good support, helping them to assess progress and set appropriate targets. Parents are consulted about sensitive aspects of the health education programme. The school recognises 4 the need to involve parents more in developing its work in health and wellbeing. The school has effective arrangements to support children’s move from nursery to P1 and from P7 to S1. Curricular links from nursery into P1 need strengthening to support staff in building more effectively on what children already know. The school needs to improve the way in which it records and responds to parental complaints.

5. Are staff and children actively involved in improving their school community?

Children work well with staff to bring about environmental improvements to the school and its grounds. Children can take on responsibilities as playground monitors, buddies and running the school tuck shop. An active pupil council has recently been re-established. The school’s approach to evaluating the quality of its work has important weaknesses. While staff have been involved in a number of self-evaluation activities, these have had insufficient impact on improving learning and teaching. The headteacher has recently introduced new, better planned arrangements to identify the school’s strengths and areas for improvement. Staff are now committed to these. The school’s previous plans for improvement have had little impact on improving outcomes for children.

6. Does the school have high expectations of all children?

The school has a positive and welcoming ethos. Staff and children are proud of their school and relate very well to each other. Children behave well and show respect towards one another. Teaching staff have received training on the school’s child protection procedures and are familiar with the steps they should take. Staff expectations of what some children can achieve are not yet high enough. Prior to their leaving, all children at P7 receive an impressive individual yearbook which records their achievements in school. The school has appropriate opportunities for religious observance which are well 5 supported by the chaplain. Staff are very strongly committed to ensuring that all children are included. Children and staff regularly join the children in the unit to learn with them and support their progress.

Children’s understanding of aspects of equality needs to be developed further.

7. Does the school have a clear sense of direction?

The newly appointed headteacher has a clear vision for the school. He is approachable to staff and parents and he has begun to share his vision for the school with them. He has taken productive steps to improve communication with parents. The headteacher is well supported by two experienced depute headteachers. The new headteacher recognises the need to reorganise the remits of senior staff to more effectively support school improvement. The principal teacher in the Queensberry Unit has a clear vision for the unit which is beginning to improve the classroom experience for children. Staff are committed to improving children’s experiences and have led aspects of staff training. Almost all are developing their professional expertise by being part of whole school development groups to share good practice and lead improvements. Children are beginning to take on responsibility for leading aspects of their own learning. The school should work with the education authority to develop its capacity for improvement.

8. What happens next?

We are confident that, with support from the education authority, the school will be able to make the necessary improvements in light of the inspection findings. As a result, we will make no more visits in connection with this inspection. The school and the education authority will inform parents about the school's progress in improving the quality of education. Our District Inspector will maintain contact with the education authority to monitor improvements in learners' achievement.

–  –  –

• Take further steps to develop the curriculum in line with the principles of Curriculum for Excellence.

• Implement consistent approaches to assessing children’s progress.

• Implement a thorough approach to improving the work of the school through self-evaluation.

At the last Care Commission inspection of the nursery class there were five recommendations, one of which had been addressed.

7 Quality indicators help schools and nursery classes, education authorities and inspectors to judge what is good and what needs to be improved in the work of a school and a nursery class. You can find these quality indicators in the HMIE publications How good is our school? and The Child at the Centre. Following the inspection of each school, the Scottish Government gathers evaluations of three important quality indicators to keep track of how well all Scottish schools and nursery classes are doing.

Here are the evaluations for Georgetown Primary School and Nursery Class.

Primary school

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If you would like to find out more about our inspections or get an electronic copy of this report, please go to www.hmie.gov.uk.

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