Teachers and parents were left ‘disappointed’ and ‘bewildered’ after Ofsted told Thomas A Becket Junior School (TAB) to improve.
The school, in Glebeside Avenue, underwent a two-day inspection early this summer but the report was only published on September 12.
A team of inspectors, led by Suzanne Cawson observed 27 lessons, spoke to staff, governors, pupils and parents and examined a wide range of documentation during their visit.
She and her team then rated the school ‘requires improvement’ in all areas except the personal development, behaviour and welfare of the children, which was found to be ‘good’.
In her report, Ms Cawson said actions being taken to improve the school had not been “rapid or systematic” enough to earn an over all ‘good’ rating.
She added: “Leaders have not ensured that pupils in all year groups are making expected progress and working at the standard appropriate for their age.”
In addition, the inspectors ruled not enough pupils had reached higher levels of performance “because expectations of what can be achieved are too low”.
Headteacher John Gadd said everyone at TAB was “bitterly disappointed” by the outcome of the inspection.
He added: “Despite working tirelessly since the previous inspection, over the two days we were unable to prove to the inspectors that standards in all of the core subjects are sufficiently high yet in relation to national outcomes.
“It was also, of course, hugely disappointing that the inspection team considered our expectations too low.”
Mr Gadd acknowledged some pupils were not yet consistently spelling key words correctly, using joined up handwriting or age-related punctuation accurately.
But he did not agree with the report’s assessment of the progress made by children in Years 3-5, which stated too many were “not yet working at the expected levels”.
Mr Gadd said he and his staff had seen “great progress” from those pupils, adding “we have also shared work from each year group with other local schools, and have been consistently told that it is of a high standard”.
He added: “We are confident that the standard of work we’re seeing in these year groups is improving year-on-year, so are sure we will continue to see improved outcomes as the children progress though the school.”
His confidence in his pupils’ abilities bore fruit when, one week after Ofsted’s visit, TAB received the results of its Key Stage 2 SATs.
Mr Gadd said the figures for grammar, punctuation, spelling and maths were “all above national figures, and well above those for West Sussex schools”.
Ofsted received 135 responses to its Parent View questionnaire, with 95 per cent saying their child was happy at the school and 89 per cent saying they were taught well.
When faced with Ofsted’s findings, Mr Gadd said the response of parents had generally been “one of bewilderment – that the school described in the inspection report is not the one they see day-to-day”.
He said TAB would be seeking re-inspection at the earliest opportunity and had “a carefully thought-out plan in place” to address the improvements required by the report.
Mr Gadd added: “However, as well as ensuring we absolutely focus on the improvements required, we will also ensure that we continue to provide an education at TAB that enables every child to be the best they can be, as a writer, reader, sportsman or woman, musician, mathematician, scientist – or whatever they choose to be.”
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