DROPPING an Ofsted grade to be ranked ‘satisfactory’ would normally be cause for concern.
But at Charles Dickens Infants in Buckland, spirits are high and new head Nicky Brown says the school is on track to be rated ‘good’ again within 18 months.
She told The News: ‘We’ve really raised our game. Even the Ofsted inspectors recognise we are an improving school and the downward trend in attainment has been reversed.
‘We won’t get big results overnight, but our children are gradually narrowing the gap with the national averages.
‘The staff here are so committed to the children and new members joining our team are experienced and talented practitioners.
‘Charles Dickens is a caring school, and our children are eager to learn.
‘We want it to be successful and I know we have the tools to be outstanding.’
Mrs Brown joined the school in January 2010 as interim head, and was appointed head in September last year.
Despite receiving a ‘good’ Ofsted in 2008 – a year before stricter inspections were introduced – the school’s chair of governors Trefor Jones admits it was ‘in a dire position’ back then.
He explained: ‘There were a lot of things going on that were not up to scratch and the Ofsted inspection, which only took one inspector one day, did not paint an accurate picture.
‘This time we had several inspectors over three days and they’ve given us a fair report with positive feedback.
‘I’m delighted where we are now. Our new head has turned the school around. Everything is improving, from teaching and learning to management.
‘We’ve also employed three young, dynamic teachers this term and there is a real sense of change for the better.
‘The school was going southwards before, but now we are heading in the right direction.’
Mrs Brown puts the school’s transformation down to a focus on good quality teaching and engaging youngsters by asking them what they enjoy as well as monitoring them closely.
As a result reading and maths attainment is now average. Inspectors commented the school was ‘rapidly improving because the recently-appointed head is driving up standards’.
However Charles Dickens still has work to do to raise attainment in writing and ensure the majority of lessons are taught to a good standard.
Mrs Brown said: ‘The judgement of satisfactory is accurate at the moment because of the legacy of our standards, however things are improving and I think we should be able to reach overall good within 18 months.
‘The staff are working enthusiastically – we are all determined to achieve that goal.’