Plympton St Mary Church of England Infant School will become an academy early in 2018, joining St. Christopher’s Multi Academy Trust. Old Priory Junior Academy, its feeder junior school, is already a member of the Trust and the move will help forge closer links and better outcomes for pupils, said head Suzie Ottewell.
The school’s Ofsted inspection praised Mrs Ottewell for the positive impact she has had on the school in her short time as leader. She had been acting head since last summer, and was confirmed in post only in July this year.
She has brought the school’s leadership team up to full strength and the team is now “working well together” and “staff morale is high” Ofsted inspectors found.
Though improvements are still needed, the report said the new head and governors had taken “swift and decisive action to bring about improvements in the quality of teaching”.
Parents were also very positive about the new leadership of the school, inspectors found.
Children too told inspectors that school is fun, and inspectors said pupils were kind, considerate and respectful.
The leadership of the early years provision is good and children make good progress in Reception. Children who have special educational needs and disabilities also make good progress at Plympton St Mary thanks to strong teaching, and the school’s Christian values are in evidence throughout.
The report sets out areas for the school to improve upon, including having higher expectations of pupils, and to check their progress regularly in order to ‘move on’ their learning. Though the school’s latest assessments from 2017 show standards are improving, the most able pupils still need to be stretched further, inspectors suggest.
Mrs Ottewell said: “Since taking over leadership of our school in June 2016, I have led a team of dedicated professionals committed to improving standards in the school. This has been supported by experts in school improvement from the local authority, Exeter Diocese and St. Christopher’s Multi Academy Trust. The recent Ofsted inspection was a rigorous process which has resulted in a judgement which matched our current school self-evaluation. We are grateful for the support and encouragement that has been given to the whole team over the last year by our parents and the wider Plympton community. We have robust plans in place to continue our drive to offer the best education and outcomes for our children.”
Inspectors also suggest that an external review of the school’s governance should be carried out to see how it could be improved, and a review of the school’s use of pupil premium.
These reviews will be carried out with the assistance of St Christopher’s Trust, a multi academy trust originally established by the Diocese of Exeter, to support schools to work in partnership to provide every school and every child with a high quality education.
Jo Evans, chief executive of the Trust, said: “I am delighted that Plympton St Mary’s is joining the Trust. The school has exceptional leadership, the quality of provision is on an upward trajectory and it will be a pleasure to support staff in embedding the improvements that have already begun.”
Chair of governors, Rev Robert Harris, said: “While the Ofsted report acknowledges the difficult circumstances in which the school has operated for the last few years it also clearly identifies the considerable progress which has been made in recent months to identify key issues and take robust action to raise standards, provide challenging and accountable leadership, and ensure positive outcomes for all pupils. I am pleased that the report recognises the pace of this change and the ability of the school to make rapid progress under its new leadership.”