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St Madoes Primary School

and Nursery Class


Perth and Kinross Council
3 June 2008
Contents Page

1. Background 1

2. Key strengths 1

3. What are the views of parents, pupils and staff? 1

4. How good are learning, teaching and achievement? 2

5. How well are pupils’ learning needs met? 4

6. How good is the environment for learning? 5

7. Leading and improving the school 6

Appendix 1 Indicators of quality 9

Appendix 2 Summary of questionnaire responses 10

Appendix 3 Good Practice 11

How can you contact us? 12


1. Background

St Madoes Primary School and Nursery Class were inspected in February 2008 as part
of a national sample of primary and nursery education. The inspection covered key
aspects of the work of the school at all stages. It evaluated nursery children’s and
pupils’ achievements, the effectiveness of the school, the environment for learning, the
school’s processes for self-evaluation and innovation, and its capacity for
improvement. There was a particular focus on attainment in English language and
mathematics.

HM Inspectors examined the quality of the children’s experience in the nursery, pupils’
work and interviewed groups of pupils, including the pupil council, and staff.
Members of the inspection team also met the chairperson of the Parent Council, a group
of parents 1 which included other representatives of the Parent Council, and members of
the wider school community.

The school serves the villages of St Madoes and Glencarse and the surrounding area.
At the time of the inspection the roll was 154, including 36 children in the nursery
class. The school had achieved Eco-Schools Scotland status. The proportion of pupils
who were entitled to free school meals was below the national average. Pupils’
attendance was above the national average.

2. Key strengths

HM Inspectors identified the following key strengths.

• Innovative outdoor learning experiences for children in the nursery and pupils
at all stages.

• Productive links with parents and the wider community which supported
learning throughout the school.

• The contribution of staff to the life and work of the school.

• High quality pastoral care.

3. What are the views of parents, pupils and staff?

HM Inspectors analysed responses to questionnaires issued to all parents, P4 to


P7 pupils, and to all staff. Information about the responses to the questionnaires
appears in Appendix 2.

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Throughout this report, the term ‘parents’ should be taken to include foster carers, residential care staff and
carers who are relatives or friends.

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Parents, including parents of children in the nursery, expressed high levels of
satisfaction with almost all aspects of the school. In particular, they were happy with
the quality of the accommodation. They felt that staff knew their children well, showed
concern for their care and welfare and dealt effectively with any inappropriate
behaviour. A minority of parents felt they did not receive enough information about
their children’s progress. Most pupils expressed positive views about the school, in
particular about how well teachers supported them with their work. Around a third did
not agree that they got the right amount of homework. Pupils in P7 expressed less
positive views about their experiences. Staff enjoyed working in the school and were
very satisfied with all aspects of their work.

4. How good are learning, teaching and achievement?

Pupils’ learning experiences and achievements

The quality of the curriculum in the nursery class and at the primary stages was good. In
the nursery class, staff ensured a suitable balance between adult-led activities and those
chosen by children. They provided frequent opportunities for children to learn through play
with pupils in P1 and P2. Children had good opportunities to express their ideas and
feelings through art and craft and to develop their curiosity about the natural world. At all
stages from nursery to P7, the curriculum had been enriched by recent improvements to the
school grounds. Pupils were benefiting from learning outdoors, including practical work in
mathematics and environmental studies and activities designed to develop skills in
enterprise and citizenship. Teachers had introduced a number of innovations within the
context of the national Curriculum for Excellence. For example, they had increased pupils’
involvement in planning environmental projects and learning in mixed-age groupings.
They recognised the need to evaluate the success of these initiatives. Well-planned
programmes across all the key curricular areas allowed pupils to make suitable progress in
their learning overall. In English language, some teachers did not yet do enough to develop
pupils’ skills in group discussion. In mathematics, activities were not always well enough
linked to real-life situations, for example work on money and time. Staff in the nursery
were working to increase opportunities for energetic indoor play. The two hours allocated
to physical education each week at the primary stages did not always include enough high
quality, energetic activity. The quality of teaching was good overall. In the nursery, staff
were sensitive and encouraging in their interactions with children. In most lessons at the
primary stages, teachers shared clearly with pupils what they were expected to learn,
provided stimulating and motivating activities and gave clear and helpful explanations. In
P2, pupils were benefiting in particular from effective questioning and regular opportunities
to work collaboratively in groups. Teaching was less effective in a minority of lessons
where, for example, it was sometimes not clear what knowledge or skills teachers intended
pupils to develop. On occasions, some teachers did not succeed in engaging pupils in their
learning and did not give them enough feedback to help them to improve.

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Children in the nursery were making good progress in their learning and development.
They had enjoyed making, then using, musical instruments. They were gaining an
appreciation of the changing seasons through their activities in the nursery garden. They
were developing good hand control through using an interesting range of construction
equipment, jigsaws and games. The quality of learners’ experiences at the primary stages
was good. Most pupils were well motivated, enthusiastic and participated well in learning
activities. Through the pupil council and the Eco School committee, they had good
opportunities to have their say in decisions affecting the life and work of the school. A
minority of pupils were not fully engaged in their learning during lessons. A similar
proportion were not confident that teachers would listen to their views.

The school took effective steps to promote pupils’ wider achievements. In the nursery,
children were growing in self-confidence. They played cooperatively and readily engaged
with adults. Across the school, pupils were achieving in a broad range of areas. All pupils
had been involved in designing and developing the impressive range of improvements to
the school grounds. Older pupils effectively took on responsibilities such as helping in the
nursery, acting as buddies to their younger peers and serving as junior road safety officers.
Pupils had developed their skills and achieved success in a range of sports including
swimming, cricket, football, rugby, curling and cross-country running. They successfully
applied their enterprise skills to raising money for a range of charities. Through activities
such as dance, a residential outdoor education experience in P7, orienteering and
participation in the Christmas concert, they had increased their self-confidence and ability
to work with others.

English language

Children in the nursery were making good progress in communication and language. Most
listened carefully to others and talked well about their experiences and feelings. They
enjoyed learning about sounds, exploring rhyme and listening to stories. Children made
good use of the writing table and some were able to write their own names. At the primary
stages, the overall quality of attainment in English language was good. Levels of
attainment had varied over recent years. Most pupils achieved appropriate national levels
of attainment in listening, talking, reading and writing. At all stages, a few pupils achieved
the expected levels of attainment for their stage early and the few pupils who were not
attaining appropriate national levels were making good progress towards their individual
targets. At all stages, most pupils listened well to their teachers and each other in lessons.
Pupils in P2 spoke confidently about their project on toys at a whole-school assembly. By
the upper stages, pupils’ skills in group discussion were not well enough developed. Pupils
at the early stages were making good progress in learning to read. Across the primary
classes, pupils were improving their ability to read for information and to reflect on writers’
craft through the school’s “keys to literacy” initiative. Most pupils wrote well for a variety
of interesting purposes. Pupils in P5/P6 wrote expressively about friendship while pupils in
P6/P7 wrote effective poems. At the upper stages, a small number of pupils were still
working towards appropriate standards of hand-writing and presentation of written work.

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Mathematics

Children in the nursery were making good progress in early mathematics. They had
successfully learned number songs and rhymes. Through a range of play activities relating
to number, they were making good progress in their ability to count from one to ten. At the
primary stages, the overall quality of attainment in mathematics was good. Levels of
attainment had varied over recent years. Most pupils achieved appropriate national levels
of attainment in key aspects of mathematics. A few pupils achieved the expected levels of
attainment for their stage early and those who were not attaining appropriate national levels
were making good progress towards their individual targets. At the early and middle
stages, pupils were developing appropriate skills in conducting surveys and making graphs.
At the upper stages, pupils lacked appropriate experience and skills in using computers to
display information using a wide variety of graphs. Pupils at all stages were confident
when undertaking written calculations and at the early and middle stages they were able to
perform speedy mental calculations. At the upper stages, the majority had a secure
understanding of the relationship between fractions and percentages. Pupils had a good
understanding of the properties of two- and three-dimensional shapes. At all stages,
learning activities in real contexts outdoors had helped to improve pupils’ mathematical
skills. The skills of a significant minority of pupils in solving mathematical problems were
not sufficiently developed.

5. How well are pupils’ learning needs met?

In the nursery, staff took good account of children’s learning styles and needs. At the
primary stages, most tasks provided by teachers allowed pupils to make good progress in
their learning. In a few cases, learning activities were not stimulating enough. Teachers
sometimes did not make enough use of information from assessment to provide pupils with
sufficient support or challenge. The visiting teacher of learning support, early childhood
practitioners, the class assistant and the support for learning assistant in the nursery
provided good support. They worked effectively across the school with pupils in class as
well as with groups and individual pupils who had particular needs. Staff used appropriate
individualised education plans for the few pupils with additional support needs. Staff
evaluated these plans regularly and gave parents good opportunities to discuss their
children’s progress and next steps in learning.

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6. How good is the environment for learning?

Aspect Comment

Care, welfare The school provided a caring environment in which children


and felt safe and well looked after. Staff knew pupils well and
development were sensitive to their physical, social and emotional needs.
A broad range of suitable policies guided and supported the
work of staff in ensuring the care and welfare of pupils.
These policies included effective arrangements for child
protection, including relevant training for staff. Pupils’
personal and social skills were well developed. Staff
ensured that pupils explored suitable topics and participated
in challenging out-of-class activities. The school strongly
promoted healthy living, including regular exercise. All
staff, and in particular the school cook, made an important
contribution to encouraging pupils to eat healthily at lunch
time. The school supported children very effectively when
they moved from the nursery into P1 and was enhancing
transfer arrangements between P7 and S1 at Perth High
School.

Management The accommodation was very well maintained and good


and use of attention was given to security. High quality displays
resources and throughout the school provided a pleasant and stimulating
space for learning environment for all children. Recent improvements to
learning the extensive school grounds had resulted in excellent outdoor
learning facilities including a ‘trim trail’, an outdoor classroom,
a bird area, a sensory garden and an area for growing vegetables.
Ramps and a stair lift provided appropriate access for users with
mobility difficulties. Staff used computers and electronic
whiteboards to enhance learning across the school. The
cloakroom area for the nursery and P1/P2 was too crowded with
children and adults at the start of the school day.

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Aspect Comment

Climate and Staff and most pupils identified strongly with the school.
relationships, Throughout the school, staff made very effective
expectations contributions to the life of the school and worked well
and promoting together. In the nursery, staff had very good relationships
achievement with children and used praise very well to encourage and
and equality support children. At the primary stages, relationships
and fairness between pupils and staff were positive. Staff regularly
celebrated pupils’ successes. However, teachers’
expectations of pupils’ achievements and attitudes to work
were not always high enough. In a small minority of cases,
teachers accepted and praised work of poor quality. A few
examples of unsettled and disrespectful behaviour by pupils
went unchecked. Children and their parents felt welcome
and included in the school. All staff had received training in
racial equality. The school had recently celebrated cultural
diversity through a successful evening workshop event
involving staff, children and their parents.

The school’s The school involved parents and the local community very
success in well in its work. Regular newsletters and curriculum
involving evenings kept parents well informed about the life and work
parents, carers of the school. Parents received helpful information about
and families their children’s progress in the form of written reports and
‘learning trees’ outlining the work to be undertaken each
term. They appreciated having a choice of dates and times
for attending parents’ evenings. Parents and grandparents
regularly helped with a range of school activities and
attended school assemblies. Parents and the local
community had supported recent improvements to the
school grounds through both fund-raising and practical
assistance. Productive links with local businesses, for
example the local gardening centre, and the wider
community enriched pupils’ learning. The Parent Council
strongly supported the school and had prepared a helpful
newsletter for parents explaining its functions and the work
it planned to undertake.

7. Leading and improving the school

Appendix 1 provides HM Inspectors’ overall evaluation of the work of the school.

St Madoes Primary School and Nursery Class had many strengths. Pupils were well
cared for and encouraged to adopt healthy lifestyles. A broad and developing
curriculum and good overall teaching standards supported pupils’ learning and

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achievement. Attainment in English language and mathematics was good but could be
improved through consistently high expectations of pupils’ achievements and attitudes
to work, and more rigorous assessment and monitoring of their progress. The
commitment of staff and the effective leadership of the headteacher and the principal
teacher indicated the school’s potential for continued improvement.

The headteacher was strongly committed to ensuring continuous improvement


throughout the school. She had successfully encouraged all staff to take on leadership
roles in key aspects of learning. She had won the support of parents and had developed
effective partnerships with the local community to support learning in the school. The
recently appointed principal teacher had made a very promising start. Her teaching was
a model of good practice. She was now ready to take on a more prominent role in
leading learning across the school. The headteacher had provided helpful professional
development for staff, for example in using questioning to extend pupils’ learning. She
now needed to ensure that teachers used recommended strategies consistently in
lessons. The school improvement plan needed to focus on a smaller number of
essential action points. The school had a good knowledge of its strengths and areas for
improvement through questionnaires to parents and pupils, regular monitoring of
learning and teaching in classrooms and a range of audits carried out on aspects of its
work. The headteacher now needed to ensure that these processes for self-evaluation
led consistently to sharing of good practice and to improvements where necessary. The
headteacher tracked pupils’ progress in English language and mathematics but
approaches to monitoring were not yet rigorous and challenging enough to ensure that
all pupils reached their full potential.

Nursery staff were aware of the implications of the Scottish Social Services Council’s
Codes of Practice.

At the last Care Commission inspection of the nursery class there were three
recommendations. One of these recommendations had been fully addressed and good
progress had been made with the other two.

Main points for action

The school and education authority should take account of the need to:

• establish consistently high expectations of pupils’ achievements and attitudes


to work;

• improve arrangements for using assessment and tracking of pupils’ attainment


to help pupils make appropriate progress; and

• ensure the school improvement plan contains a manageable number of


priorities for improvement, and that these priorities are consistently
implemented by all staff.

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What happens next?

The school and the education authority have been asked to prepare an action plan
indicating how they will address the main findings of the report, and to share that plan
with parents. Within two years of the publication of this report parents will be
informed about the progress made by the school.

Jane B Renton
HM Inspector

3 June 2008

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Appendix 1 Indicators of quality

The sections in the table below follow the order in this report. You can find the main
comments made about each of the quality indicators in those sections. However,
aspects of some quality indicators are relevant to other sections of the report and may
also be mentioned in those other sections.

How good are learning, teaching and achievement?


The curriculum good
Teaching for effective learning good
Learners’ experiences good
Improvement in performance: English language good
Improvement in performance: mathematics good

How well are pupils’ learning needs met?


Meeting learning needs good

How good is the environment for learning?


Care, welfare and development very good
Management and use of resources and space for learning very good
The engagement of staff in the life and work of the school very good
Expectations and promoting achievement adequate
Equality and fairness very good
The school’s success in involving parents, carers and very good
families

Leading and improving the school


Developing people and partnerships good
Leadership of improvement and change good
Improvement through self-evaluation good

This report uses the following word scale to make clear judgements made by
inspectors:

excellent outstanding, sector leading


very good major strengths
good important strengths with some areas for improvement
adequate strengths just outweigh weaknesses
weak important weaknesses
unsatisfactory major weaknesses

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Appendix 2 Summary of questionnaire responses

Important features of responses from the various groups which received questionnaires
are listed below.

What parents thought the school did What parents think the school
well could do better

• The school buildings were in good • Around a fifth of parents wanted


order. more information about their
• The school dealt effectively with children’s strengths and
any inappropriate behaviour. weaknesses, and the school’s
• Staff in the nursery knew children expectations of pupils.
as individuals and interacted well
with them.

What pupils thought the school did What pupils think the school could
well do better

• Teachers helped pupils when they • Around a third of pupils did not
had difficulties with their work. agree that they got the right
• Teachers expected them to work amount of homework.
hard.
• Teachers checked pupils’
homework.

What staff thought the school did What staff think the school could
well do better

• They liked working in the school. • There were no significant issues.


• There was regular staff discussion
about how to achieve the school’s
priorities.
• Pupils’ success was celebrated.

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Appendix 3 Good practice

In the course of the inspection, the following aspects of innovative and effective
practice were evaluated as being worthy of wider dissemination.

Outdoor learning

Pupils had demonstrated good skills in enterprise and creativity in a project to improve
the school grounds and develop facilities for outdoor learning. Parents and members of
the wider community had supported the project through fundraising and practical
assistance. Pupils in P2 had joined those in P7 to enhance the playground by filling
planters with a variety of plants to attract birds and insects. Pupils in P3/P4 had designed
and made a sensory garden. Those in P4/P5 had tidied an area of the grounds and painted
picnic tables to create a pleasant social area. Pupils in P5/P6 had designed and helped
build an area for growing vegetables. An outdoor classroom, a “trim trail” and a willow
tunnel had also been created. Pupils had worked with a visiting artist to create a striking
mural representing wildlife in the surrounding area. They were currently involved in
designing an outdoor performance area. Pupils at all stages from the nursery to P7 were
now benefiting from enhanced opportunities for outdoor learning. They regularly
developed their knowledge and skills in areas such as mathematics and environmental
studies through learning activities outdoors.

Cooperative learning in Primary 2

Through cooperative learning, pupils in P2 worked in groups, with each member of the
group having a particular responsibility, for example recorder, checker or reporter. The
approach aimed to build pupils’ self-confidence and their skills in working with each
other. The class teacher shared the rules for cooperative learning effectively with her
pupils. She stressed the importance of looking at the person who is talking and listening
to and encouraging everyone in the group. Cooperative learning approaches were used in
English language, mathematics and environmental studies lessons and were successful in
helping pupils develop their knowledge and skills in these curricular areas. Cooperative
learning also successfully developed pupils’ personal and social skills by promoting team
work and responsibility. The teacher of the P2 class had undergone special training in
cooperative learning. Five more teachers were due to receive training so that the
approach could be used more widely, with the aim of enhancing pupils’ learning
experiences across the school.

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How can you contact us?

If you would like an additional copy of this report

Copies of this report have been sent to the headteacher and school staff, the Executive
Director of Education and Children’s Services, local councillors and appropriate
Members of the Scottish Parliament. Subject to availability, further copies may be
obtained free of charge from HM Inspectorate of Education, T1 Spur, Saughton House,
Broomhouse Drive, Edinburgh EH11 3XD or by telephoning 0131 244 8079. Copies
are also available on our website www.hmie.gov.uk.

HMIE Feedback and Complaints Procedure

Should you wish to comment on any aspect of primary inspections you should write in
the first instance to Chris McIlroy, HMCI, at HM Inspectorate of Education, Denholm
House, Almondvale Business Park, Almondvale Way, Livingston EH54 6GA.

If you have a concern about this report, you should write in the first instance to our
Complaints Manager, HMIE Business Management and Communications Team,
Second Floor, Denholm House, Almondvale Business Park, Almondvale Way,
Livingston EH54 6GA. You can also e-mail HMIEComplaints@hmie.gsi.gov.uk. A
copy of our complaints procedure is available from this office, by telephoning
01506 600200 or from our website at www.hmie.gov.uk.

If you are not satisfied with the action we have taken at the end of our complaints
procedure, you can raise your complaint with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
(SPSO). The SPSO is fully independent and has powers to investigate complaints
about Government departments and agencies. You should write to the SPSO, Freepost
EH641, Edinburgh EH3 0BR. You can also telephone 0800 377 7330 fax
0800 377 7331 or e-mail: ask@spso.org.uk. More information about the Ombudsman’s
office can be obtained from the website: www.spso.org.uk.

Crown Copyright 2008

HM Inspectorate of Education

This report may be reproduced in whole or in part, except for commercial purposes or
in connection with a prospectus or advertisement, provided that the source and date
thereof are stated.

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