Ofsted inspection shows Cooks Spinney heading in right direction

A SCHOOL which was failing in all areas in 2013 has been judged to have Good leadership, management and pupil behaviour by Ofsted.

Cooks Spinney Primary School, in Cooks Spinney, Harlow, was graded in September 2013 as Requires Improvement. A visit this month – the first since it joined the Burnt Mill Co-operative Academy Trust (BMAT) – showed rapid improvements are being made, with inspectors able to upgrade their findings to Good in several areas. This is the first time in the school’s history it has been graded Good for leadership and management.

The latest inspection was so positive, head of school Stuart Pope is certain the whole school will be considered Outstanding within 18 months.

He said: “We were able to show the inspectors our strong progress. The efforts we have put in and the rapid changes we have made were clear to see. This paves the way for a great future.

“The inspectors said we offered a really strong curriculum which provided lots of opportunities for our children to learn in different ways and in alternative environments. They liked our cross-curriculum topic approach, our celebration of all faiths and understanding of democracy and British values.

“The fact we are aware of our strengths and weaknesses was acknowledged and that’s all we can ask for.”

The report said: “The academy is led and managed well. The new senior leadership team has a clear understanding of what needs to be done to improve pupils’ achievement. In a relatively short time, leaders have begun to improve the quality of teaching and pupils’ progress.

“Pupils enjoy coming to school and attendance has improved significantly. Pupils get along well with each other and their behaviour is good.”

Mr Pope only took on his role as head of school two terms ago and is proud of what has been achieved in such a short space of time.

He said: “The report is a fair reflection of the school as it stands. We are getting it right with the early years – also graded as Good – and outcomes are improving, it’s the bit in the middle we now need to work on.

“Our children are absolutely amazing and they deserve the very best. They were really well mannered and polite during the inspection and happy to talk about their experiences.

“The aim now is to be considered Outstanding. I am confident we will achieve that within 12 to 18 months as we were very close in some areas, which means almost all of these children will experience it. It is really difficult to be graded Good for leadership when other areas are not quite there yet, but they gave it to us as they can see what we are doing.”

The latest inspection comes hot on the heels of fellow BMAT school Freshwaters Primary Academy being graded as Good after also turning around its fortunes in just a matter of months.

Ofsted gave Cooks Spinney an overall Requires Improvements grading. The report can be read on the school’s website.

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