Willowdown class

Ofsted inspectors have recognised recent improvements at Willowdown Primary School in Bridgwater but say there is still more to be done.

The school’s leaders and Futura Learning Partnership have taken immediate action on some of the issues raised following the inspection and have robust  plans to take the school forward.

Three inspectors visited Willowdown, which has 313 pupils aged two to 11, for two days in early May and their report, which rates the school as Requires Improvement, has just been published.

Among the strengths highlighted were:

  • The new curriculum, which is enabling students to learn more successfully
  • Raised expectations of what children can achieve
  • Thoughtful changes to the behaviour system
  • A consistent approach to early reading.

Ofsted noted that Futura staff were working closely with the school to boost the quality of education.

“Leaders from the new multi-academy trust have clear plans for how they will support and challenge the school to improve in the future,” the report said.

Headteacher Natalie Sweet, who took up her post in September 2022, said the inspectors had provided clear recommendations on how the school could build for the future.

She said: “The three main areas of concern identified by Ofsted were behaviour, communication with parents and quality of education. In the two months since the inspection, we have taken steps to address all these issues and have clear plans to make further rapid progress during the coming year.”

“We have joined the Diana Award programme for anti-bullying and will be appointing children as Anti Bullying Ambassadors to help reinforce the positive and respectful behaviour we expect through our Willowdown Way.”

“Ofsted recognised that we try hard to engage parents and carers and have established some strong relationships. We have asked families to share their concerns so we can work with them all to support their children’s education. We are also introducing an enhanced communication system so we can link better with parents and celebrate their children’s achievements.”

“Our pupils deserve the best educational experience we can offer. We will continue to embed our new curriculum, which the inspectors acknowledged is already leading to more successful learning. We have some exciting plans to inspire our children next year, including building and stocking a new library and adding a pond to our improved forest area.”

“We have a stable and experienced staff team in place for September and effective support from our academy trust, Futura Learning Partnership, so we are confident that our school is well placed to go from strength to strength.”

Gary Schlick, director of education at Futura Learning Partnership, said: “The inspection report noted that the trust is working closely with the leaders at Willowdown but said it was too soon for the impact of improvements to be seen. We have continued and will continue our targeted support for the school. Progress is already evident as the teachers build on the strengths highlighted by Ofsted.”

“We are developing an action plan to ensure governors and trustees are able to hold school leaders fully to account for the quality of education that pupils receive.”

You can read the full Ofsted report.