New Little Parndon Primary Head determined to turn things around

Education: Primary / Mon 30th Oct 2023 at 08:33am

THE NEW Head at Little Parndon Primary Academy is determined to make his mark after Ofsted reported that the school “Requires Improvement”.

Luke Wildig is a much respected teacher in the BMAT community and having had success at previous schools he arrived at Little Parndon in April, determined to redress a number of issues.

YH went down to the school, to speak to new head and hear about his plans.

It is only fair to say, that the report concentrates (mainly) on a time before Mr Wildig arrived an our interview focuses on his vision and ambition.

Here are some of the comments from the Ofsted report

Pupils look forward to coming to school. They want to learn and focus on doing their
best. However, rules, routines and high expectations are not consistently established
at this school. As a result, sometimes pupils distract one another in lessons, or do
not listen to their teachers.

Pupils feel safe. They know how to stay safe online. They know who they can talk to
if they have a worry. Bullying does happen but staff deal with it appropriately.

However, unkind behaviour from some pupils does happen and sometimes this
behaviour reoccurs. Pupils make good use of the learning mentor within the school if
they have worries. They use lunchtime clubs to help manage their emotions. Pupils
keep active with a range of activities organised during playtimes and lunchtimes.

Pupils do not always make the academic progress that they should. This is because
the curriculum, teaching and activities do not consistently help pupils to learn and
remember more.

Pupils can take on a range of leadership opportunities such as ‘digital leaders.

They enjoy the clubs on offer such as dance and colouring club. Pupils look forward to the
school trips.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

The quality of education across the school is variable. This is because, over time,
leaders and the trust have not sufficiently developed the curriculum. Some
curriculum plans lack ambition and do not set out clearly what pupils will learn and
do. For some subjects, leaders have set out a well-ordered curriculum of what pupils
should learn but this is not consistent. Many teachers have not received enough
support and training to lead or teach subjects well. Current leaders have identified
these weaknesses quickly and are setting about addressing them.

Teachers do not always know what they must teach or how to best help pupils
understand new knowledge. This means that, in some subjects, pupils do not make
connections with what they have learned before. They also have gaps in knowledge.

As a result, pupils are not as well prepared for the next stage in learning as they
should be. In subjects where teachers have stronger subject knowledge, the
curriculum is better developed and there is more of a focus on how pupils will
develop skills and knowledge over time.

Leaders have recently introduced a new early reading programme. It helps pupils to
learn how to read step-by-step. The books pupils read match the sounds they have
learned in class. This helps pupils to practise reading unfamiliar words accurately
using their phonics knowledge. Leaders have provided training for some staff, but
not all. As a result, pupils’ misconceptions often go unnoticed. Older pupils who are
still learning to read do not have books that match their reading stage. Pupils begin
reading lessons as soon as they join the school. However, by the end of Reception
year, many have already fallen behind where leaders expect them to be.

Children in Reception lack plentiful opportunities to learn how to communicate or
make friends. Staff do not know how best to support some aspects of children’s
development. Many of the activities do not help children to learn new knowledge
and skills. Children’s unfriendly and overly boisterous behaviour is not routinely
noticed or corrected. This does not help children develop the attitudes that enable
them to successfully play and learn with others.

Pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) do not always get the
help they need to access learning.
Some staff do not have the information they need
to understand pupils’ needs effectively, particularly if these are more complex. As a
result, staff do not always provide pupils with SEND suitable support to help them
learn as well as their peers.

Pupils know what ‘kind and caring’ should look like. However, leaders have not
ensured that all pupils learn and follow the rules,
routines and expectations that help
them to be kind and behave well. Most pupils are respectful towards adults and
follow instructions. Some pupils often distract others in lessons. They sometimes do
not complete work set for them. This makes it difficult for some other pupils to
learn, particularly pupils with SEND.

Most pupils enjoy the range of after-school clubs on offer. The clubs help them to try
new things. For example, being part of a rock band. Pupils who take on leadership
roles are keen to have more responsibility. The learning mentor helps pupils to
understand their school experiences.

Trust leaders have not sufficiently prioritised the needs of pupils, staff and school
leaders. As a result, weaknesses in the curriculum have not been addressed until
recently. Staff have not always had the support and knowledge of how to help pupils
develop, learn and behave well. The trustees and school governors know the school
priorities. They are supporting leaders with the rapid improvement plan.

The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Leaders have trained staff and provide regular updates about safeguarding. Staff
know the signs of harm. They are aware of local school issues. Staff identify
concerns and report them using school systems. Leaders take action to ensure that
pupils and their families get the support they need to stay safe.

Pupils make use of the pastoral support that leaders have put in place, including
worry boxes and a learning mentor. This means that pupils are confident to share
their worries and concerns when needed. They trust adults to keep them safe.

What does the school need to do to improve?

 The curriculum, including in the early years, has not been fully developed. It does
not sufficiently set out, in a logical order, what pupils will learn. Staff lack
knowledge about how to teach some subjects well. As a result, pupils have gaps
in their learning and cannot recall what they have learned in these subjects.
Leaders must ensure that the curriculum clearly defines content, knowledge and
skills that pupils will learn in all subjects. Leaders should ensure that staff have
the knowledge and expertise to teach the full range of subjects in the curriculum
 Subject and phase leaders lack the support and knowledge required to lead their
subjects well. As a result, expectations for pupils in some subjects are low and
pupils to do not achieve as well as they could. Leaders should ensure that all
subject leaders have the guidance and expertise to lead and evaluate their areas
of responsibility effectively.
 Staff lack knowledge about how to support some pupils with SEND. As a result,
some pupils are not getting the support they need. Leaders should ensure that all
staff know how to support the learning of pupils with SEND and meet their needs
 Staff in the early years lack knowledge about how best to support children’s
social, emotional and language development. As a result, children miss out on
vital opportunities to learn how to communicate, make friends and behave well.
Leaders should train staff in how to support children’s development of social and
communication skills.
 Leaders have not ensured that rules, routines and expectations for pupils’
behaviour in class are followed consistently and understood by all. As a result,
disruption to learning and unkind behaviour are not always addressed effectively.
Leaders should ensure that expectations of behaviour are communicated and
understood by all. They should support staff to apply these consistently to help all
pupils develop positive attitudes towards learning.

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6 Comments for New Little Parndon Primary Head determined to turn things around:

2023-10-30 16:58:04

If only you knew the whole of it. As a parent of a child with send needs at this school. This is very hard to read.

Gillian O’connor
2023-10-30 17:25:49

Always have thought the school is lacking & unfortunately really doesn’t practice what it preaches! New leadership fine but carry through what you say you will do instead of making promises

Anon parent
2023-10-31 16:31:08

Little Parndon has a very poor reputation amongst parents of children with SEND needs. Little to no support put in place and you have to fight for any small amount of support to be given. Very little understanding of SEND students. I don’t hold out much hope that this will change.

Nandhini Ramesh
2023-11-03 03:51:45

I wonder the process of school admissions are not mentioned in this post, parents like us experiencing hard time to place pupils to school. Unkind behaviour of admin staff , no proper response and communication .

M Brown
2023-11-03 20:40:24

We all know that schools can only thrive with a good lead at the top. Why not give this head a chance to bring his vision to fruition. It’s not going to be cured overnight, but I’ve heard some positive things about his new staff

Concerned parent
2024-04-18 12:04:07

Maybe Your Harlow should be interviewing the numerous parents with concerns on this school’s leadership. There are some very concerning and questionable practices.

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