‘Outstanding’ Chelmsford school drops to ‘requires improvement’ after Ofsted inspection

A former “outstanding” primary school in Chelmsford has been told by an education watchdog it requires improvement after inspectors found its curriculum was not “fit for purpose”.

Ofsted found younger pupils at Boreham Primary School, Chelmsford, were not learning to read well enough to support their learning in the future.

This was the school’s first inspection in 15 years, having been previously exempt from routine inspections by law until November 2020.

Despite its overall rating, the school was rated “good” in the categories of personal development and behaviour and attitudes.

Headteacher Ian Bowyer said in a statement: “The inspection team identified many of our strengths, not least in relation to safeguarding, pastoral care and well-being, personal development and behaviour, however we are very disappointed with our overall outcome judgement.

“The leadership team is 100 per cent committed to implementing the recommendations in the report and is already beginning to tackle the key areas identified for improvement. 

“The school has a clear action plan in place to address the key improvement areas and is working effectively alongside the local authority, with the support of our governing body ​and parents to ensure that we remain fully focused on our key priorities.”

According to the inspection report, “too many” pupils were not achieving well enough and the curriculum was not fully established.

A section read: “Leaders have not designed and implemented a curriculum that is fit for purpose from the early years through to Year 6.

“This has led to inconsistencies with how the curriculum is delivered across the school.”

The school’s leaders have reviewed parts of the curriculum such as writing and maths, but it was not always clear what pupils should know in other areas such as early reading, the report continues.

Additionally, the report claims leaders did not respond urgently enough to weaknesses in the curriculum and that they lacked ambition for the early years.

Although this is in part due to the pandemic, it has resulted in some pupils performing less well than others the same age.

The report also says teachers had not received training to be able to teach reading well.

School governors occasionally focused on the wrong priorities, and a lack of measurable targets meant that they did not always know how their plans to improve the school were making a difference.

However, the report did say that pupils felt safe and happy at school, and that there was a high standard of care at Boreham.

Disadvantaged pupils were given additional help at the school, but the report continues to say this was not planned well enough to ensure their needs were fully met.

The report clarifies that “disadvantaged pupils” includes those receiving pupil premium, claiming free school meals, or who have claimed in the last six years, and those in care.

According to a Department of Education report from October 2020, some outstanding, publicly-funded schools, colleges and other organisations were exempt from routine inspections.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter