Primary school teachers dancing with joy after praise from Ofsted

Ofsted success for Harbour School, Newhaven
Ofsted success for Harbour School, Newhaven

Teachers were left dancing with joy after their school was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted – with its early years provision judged ‘outstanding’.

Harbour Primary School, in Newhaven, had been told to improve following it last inspection in February 2014, when the quality of teaching and the achievement of pupils were both ruled to be below the required standard.

Harbour school, Newhaven, Ofsted success SUS-160526-090632008

Harbour school, Newhaven, Ofsted success SUS-160526-090632008

Just over two years on and the inspectors’ report told a very different story.

Joanna Toulson led a team of inspectors during a two-day visit to the school in Church Hill early this month and their findings were published on Wednesday (May 25).

Ms Toulson said: “Good leadership and management have resulted in improved teaching since the last inspection. As a result, pupils now make good progress from their starting points and reach standards at the end of Year 6 which are in line with the national average.” She added: “The school is in a good position to continue to improve.”

Headteacher Christine Terrey described the rating as a “huge achievement” for her school, which opened in 2013 and only moved to its current site in 2014.

Teachers took to YouTube to celebrate

Teachers took to YouTube to celebrate

The school was formed by the joining of Grays School and Southdown School – a merger supported by 85 per cent of the parents. Mrs Terrey had been head of Grays and, before the merger, held the post of executive head, covering both schools.

Harbour was still operating from two sites when Ofsted carried out its last inspection – and building work at the Church Hill site was still ongoing.

Mrs Terrey said: “We had only been Harbour Primary for a short while when Ofsted came – we were a building site.” She said she had not found the ‘requires improvement’ rating too much of a surpise and added: “We didn’t have enough of a background to be ‘good’. It was a fair judgement at the time.

“That really shows our progress! I’m so so proud of my children first, and my staff have enabled the children to develop their full potential.”

Harbour school, Newhaven, Ofsted success SUS-160526-090555008

Harbour school, Newhaven, Ofsted success SUS-160526-090555008

That progress prompted some high praise from Ms Toulson and her colleagues.

Arguably the highlight of the report, though, was the ‘outstanding’ rating given to Harbour’s early years provision. Mrs Terrey praised the work of early years teacher Nicola Williams, who was described by Ofsted as showing “relentless determination” to improve outcomes for children.

With her eye clearly on ‘outstanding’ ratings across the board, she added: “Obviously we’re going to strive with absolute determination to achieve the very best grading in our next visit.”

In order to secure that top rank, Harbour must attend to some points highlighted by Ms Toulson for improvement.

They were further improvements to teaching and the need to continue their work to encourage good attendance by the children.

Another team of people who were seen by Ofsted to be doing their jobs effectively were the school governors.

Ms Toulson said: “They provide support to the headteacher but also hold leaders to account. They ask challenging questions, for example about whether pupils’ targets are sufficiently challenging.”

Mrs Terrey shared her feelings about government proposals to allow schools to axe the role of parent governor. Stressing the need for parent governors to be involved with the running of schools, she said she “wouldn’t want to be without them”.

She added: “I think parent governors are essential. I think they give a very important voice that needs to be heard. My parent governors have great skills outside of education – one works in special educational needs and one runs nurseries in another local authority. They have skills in their own field that can contribute to our school. They have a viewpoint as parents, such as how children are getting on at school and what is working for us.”

Mrs Terrey and her staff have shared their delight with the students, YouTube and the rest of the social media world with a tongue-in-cheek video showing their nervousness at Ofsted’s impending report – and their wonderfully over-the-top reaction to the ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ ratings.

To view the video, log on to YouTube and search for ‘Harbour Primary Celebration’.

Head calls for support over family holidays

The head of Harbour Primary School has called for more to be done to ensure families can afford to take holidays outside term time.

The cost of flights and hotels during the summer holidays has led to some parents taking their children out of school during term time to take advantage of the cheaper rates.

Christine Terrey said she never authorised such holiday requests but sympathised with parents who felt term-time holidays were their only course of action.

Mrs Terrey said: “I want children to be in school every day, but I believe travel companies should ensure parents with young families should get better prices. I feel very strongly that more should be done to support families during holiday time.”

Harbour’s latest Ofsted report noted Mrs Terrey and her team had done a lot to improve what had been a lower than average attendance record.

She said: “We will be doing our best to work with our families to ensure they bring their children into school every day.”

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