Ofsted Rate Valley Road School ‘Good’ Again

Valley Road School have been rated ‘Good’ again by Ofsted after a two day inspection in March.  Their last inspection was in January 2017.

In his report, James Broadbridge, Lead Inspector highlighted the family-centred approach that encourages confidence and happiness in all pupils underpinned by a commitment to delivering an extensive and exciting curriculum.

In the report it stated:

What it is like to attend this school?

Caring relationships lie at the heart of Valley Road.  Pupils are eloquent and zestful.  Outside pupils play imaginatively and happily. Pupils’ behaviour is impeccable. There is a strong ethos through which every child knows they must behave.  Pupils live in a town rich in culture.  Leaders exploit opportunities to immerse them in extraordinary experiences.  For example, pupils engage in the famous youth and literary festivals.

What does the school do well?

The core subjects are of high quality. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, most pupils are firmly on track.  Those who need extra help are prioritised daily.

Older pupils read avidly.  They relish the school’s library, where there is no limit on the number of books they can borrow.

The youngest children in the school focus attentively. It is impressive how staff have negated the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic here.  They have dedicated extra time to teaching children how to socialise and follow routines.  Beyond pupils’ excellent behaviour in lessons, they are most accepting of others.  They celebrate differences.  They are mature in their outlook on life.

Headteacher, Tim Coulson said, “It was very different from any inspection I’ve had before.  We got the call the day before.  We weren’t sure when it the inspection would because of the pandemic.  They didn’t look at any data, it has always been data heavy.  It was probably because of the pandemic they didn’t as we haven’t got 2 years of data. Although Covid wasn’t mentioned as such during the inspection the inspection really centred around pupils and how they have been supported during the pandemic and also when they came back into school.  It was very much about the ethos of the school and you can’t hide that.  You can’t make something like that up in 2 days – it is what it is.  It was very clearly what he was looking for.  One of things he said in the feedback to us was there was ‘magic in the school’ and it was a lovely thing to say.  When we told the children we were having the inspection they just reacted like they do when we show around new parents and they have no idea they are coming round.  They were like that with them.  So what they saw was, not who is this stranger, but it is nice to see you and we’ll tell you about what we’re doing.  The children want to be involved with things and we let them.”

“I was very pleased with the result and it was a good time for us, there is a big shift in gears to a wider curriculum, not just Maths and English which essential, but what are we offering beyond that to keep children interested and stimulated and that’s what we put a lot of time and effort into.    I was very pleased that he picked up on the ethos, the hard working staff and what the children were like and he also recognised the fact the children didn’t get through Covid just because of families, and every family had a unique experience, but it was to make sure they all felt part of the school.  It was tough but they’re back in and it’s great.”