A SMALL village school in Whitegate has been praised by Ofsted for its dramatic changes over the last year and retained its ‘good’ rating in a recent inspection.

Whitegate CofE Primary School, in Whitegate Road, was visited in July and has since been praised for the children’s consistent quality of ‘personal development, behaviour and safety’ under head teacher Caroline Mackenzie, since she was appointed in 2016.

The report outlines how there has been a significant change to the staff at the school, as only one teacher remains at the school who was there at the time of the previous inspection.

Writing to Mrs Mackenzie, the inspector added: “This small village school has developed and changed itself dramatically over the last year. Great thanks should go to the school staff for working through these changes.”

“Parents and carers are supportive of your leadership, and this is reflected in all aspects of the responses to Ofsted’s online questionnaire, Parent View, which have been made over the past year.”

From this, a typical parental comment is quoted as saying ‘the new head and new staff have really made a positive difference’.

Following a one-day inspection at the school, the report said pupils were polite, articulate and keen to tell the inspector, Paul Tomkow, about their positive experiences at Whitegate.

In his report, he wrote: “The Year 6 pupils I met talked with great excitement about their residential visit and their upcoming performance of ‘The Wind in The Willows’.

“They also spoke about their love of art and music and were keen to show me the high-quality collages celebrating different world cultures that they had recently created.”

The inspector saw some high-quality art work and pupils said that they enjoy physical education and drama lessons. However, findings proved that they do not learn well in geography, history and science.
The inspector met with staff, governors and students and observed teaching and learning, as well as scrutinised student books and overall behaviour when at school.

It said: “The proportion of children who leave the early years with a good level of development has been at or above the national average for the past three years.

“Although phonics teaching is not as effective as it should be, pupils do make strong progress in reading as they move through the school and, in key stage 2, many pupils read widely and often.”

The report also looked into bullying at the school and how members of staff handle such accusations.

In their findings, around one fifth of the parents who had responded to an Ofsted survey expressed concern about how the school deals with bullying, but it was found that the issue is dealt with effectively at Whitegate, according to Mr Tomkow’s findings.

He wrote: “School leaders are aware of the need to be constantly vigilant in this area. They are aware of the concerns that some parents have about bullying and have discussed this as an agenda item at one of the termly open meetings held with parents.”

“Bullying incidents are rare. When they do occur, they are dealt with sensitively and carefully logged, and parents are involved where this is appropriate.”

The school were issued with as set of recommendations to make the leap from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’, focusing on improvement to writing, and the wider curriculum areas identified, and providing the ‘more-able’ pupils with more challenge.