Leaders ‘halt decline in standards’ and earn school’s first ‘good’ rating

Staff and pupils at Portfield Primary Academy celebrate their 'good' Ofsted rating.
Staff and pupils at Portfield Primary Academy celebrate their 'good' Ofsted rating.

A leadership team has been praised by Ofsted after halting “a decline in standards” at a primary school.

Executive headteacher James Munt said he and his colleagues at Portfield Primary Academy were “over the moon” after the school received its first ever ‘good’ rating from inspectors.

Headteacher Andrew Strong, head of school Kate Couldwell, and executive head James Munt.

Headteacher Andrew Strong, head of school Kate Couldwell, and executive head James Munt.

The academy, in St James Road, which was previously rated ‘requires improvement’, underwent a two-day inspection in July and the findings were published on September 15.

The report by inspectors Julie Sackett and Roderick Welsh stated: “The executive headteacher and head of school have brought a greater sense of urgency to the school’s development since their appointment.

“They have worked constructively with the trust to lead the school during a turbulent period.

“They have acted quickly and successfully to address the underachievement caused by numerous changes in teaching and leadership.”

Mr Munt said: “Everyone is over the moon about it – it’s a fantastic achievement. All the staff are passionate about the school and were desperate for the school to get to ‘good’.

“It was a year’s journey and the amount of progress they have made is brilliant.”

Mr Munt was one of several staff members to join Portfield in the past year, including headteacher Andrew Strong and head of school Kate Couldwell.

He acknowledged there had been some “difficult conversations” on the road to improvement, adding: “We made sure we put the children first and got rid of any elements of weak teaching and worked hard on every aspect – a new behaviour policy, new curriculum, new guidelines for the teachers.

“We made sure pupils’ aspirations were really high.”

Comments from pupils to the inspectors that “learning is fun” and that they felt “well prepared” for secondary school, showed their efforts had not been in vain.

When it came to areas for further improvement, the report highlighted the need to: reduce the absence and fixed-term exclusion rates, improve communication with parents, and make sure teachers responded more effectively to pupils’ needs during lessons.

Mr Munt said: “The really positive thing is the targets we gave ourselves were the same ones Ofsted came up with. We knew we couldn’t do everything in a year.

“We’ve got a three-year timetable now to get there – ‘outstanding’ is always what we’ve aimed for. ‘Good’ is just a pit-stop on the way.

“We need to consolidate all the good things we do.

“As long as we maintain the momentum, we’ll get there.”

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