Once ‘outstanding’ St Helens primary told it must improve

Eccleston Mere Primary School in Eccleston has been told it must improve by Ofsted inspectors
Eccleston Mere Primary School in Eccleston has been told it must improve by Ofsted inspectors
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A St Helens primary once regarded as one of the best in the borough has been told it must improve following a damning Ofsted report.

Leaders and governors at Eccleston Mere Primary School were also accused of “resting on their laurels” and failing to address the school’s weaknesses.

In Ofsted’s four main categories, the Saleswood Avenue school was found to be failing in three of the four.

The report adds that the school’s leadership has an “overly rosy view of the school’s effectiveness”.

The report continues: “For too long, leaders and governors have rested on their laurels. They have failed to take effective action to address the weaknesses in the school’s performance.

“Consequently, a legacy of underperformance is holding back progress across the school.

“Leaders and governors have an overly rosy view of the school’s effectiveness. They have not identified the reasons for the patterns and trends in pupils’ attainment and progress.

“As a consequence, leaders do not have a credible improvement plan which sets out the most pressing issues, the actions to address them, key milestones and the expected impact on current pupils’ performance.

“Over time, the school has become increasingly isolated. Leaders and governors have failed to keep pace with the rapidly changing educational landscape.

“They have not made sure that leaders, governors and staff have accessed the training and support needed to ensure that they and their pupils continue to excel.

“Consequently, standards and progress have declined.

“The school has been late in implementing the changes required by the introduction of the national curriculum in 2014, the removal of the national curriculum levels and the changes to assessment arrangements.

“The interim headteacher has reached out to the local authority, as well as colleagues in local schools, for advice and guidance. With this support, leaders are starting to put in place the changes required. However, it is too early to evaluate the impact of these actions.

“The interim headteacher recognises that the school cannot afford to stand still while governors seek to appoint a substantive headteacher.

“She has rolled her sleeves up and is starting to address some of the issues facing the school. She has secured the support of staff to help her put in place the planned changes during this transition period. Staff applaud the interim headteacher’s willingness to listen to and act on their ideas as well as consult them about any proposed changes.

“The interim headteacher has wasted no time in seeking help for the school. The interim headteacher is making good use of the support provided by the local authority as well as local schools to help her make the necessary changes.

“For example, the introduction of a new mathematics scheme of work and assessment tool is paying dividends. Within a few weeks, the scheme has helped improve the quality of mathematics teaching and started to eliminate the legacy of underperformance as pupils’ progress accelerates.”

A council spokesman said: “It is disappointing that Eccleston Mere Primary has slipped from its previous Outstanding rating, but we share the confidence expressed by Ofsted that the interim head teacher is making positive steps towards raising standards.

“St Helens Council will continue to support the school to make the recommended improvements.”