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1 Balmedie Primary School and Nursery Class Aberdeenshire Council 23 August 2011

2 HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) inspects schools in order to let parents 1, children and the local community know whether their school 2 provides a education. Inspectors also discuss with school staff how they can improve the quality of education. At the beginning of the inspection, we ask the headteacher and staff about the strengths of the school, what needs to improve, and how they know. We use the information they give us to help us plan what we are going to look at. During the inspection, we go into classes and join other activities in which children are involved. We also gather the views of children, parents, staff and members of the local community. We find their views very helpful and use them together with the other information we have collected to arrive at our view of the quality of education. This report tells you what we found during the inspection and the quality of education in the school. We describe how well children are doing, how the school is at helping them to learn and how well it cares for them. We comment on how well staff, parents and children work together and how they go about improving the school. We also comment on how well the school works with other groups in the community, including services which support children. Finally, we focus on how well the school is led and how staff help the school achieve its aims. If you would like to learn more about our inspection of the school, please visit Here you can find analyses of questionnaire returns from children, parents and staff. We will not provide questionnaire analyses where the numbers of returns are so small that they could identify individuals. 1 Throughout this report, the term parents should be taken to include foster carers, residential care staff and carers who are relatives or friends. 2 The term school includes the nursery class or classes where appropriate.

3 Contents 1. The school 2. Particular strengths of the school 3. How well do children learn and achieve? 4. How well do staff work with others to support children s learning? 5. Are staff and children actively involved in improving their? 6. Does the school have high expectations of all children? 7. Does the school have a clear sense of direction? 8. What happens next? 1. The school Balmedie Primary School is a non-denominational school with a nursery class. It serves the village of Balmedie and surrounding area, including Potterton and Belhevie. The roll was 440, including 60 in the nursery class, when inspection was carried out in May Children s attendance was in line with the national average in 2009/

4 2. Particular strengths of the school Well-motivated, confident and responsible children. Overall quality of children s learning experiences. Arrangements for meeting the needs of children requiring additional support in their learning. Strong teamwork of staff with a clear focus on improving children s learning. Very effective partnership working with parents and other agencies and groups. 3. How well do children learn and achieve? Learning and achievement Children in the nursery class are happy and well-behaved. Most are well motivated by their experiences and take responsibility for choosing tasks and activities. However, children need a wider range of experiences to develop their independence and creativity, including through outdoor play. Children in the primary have a very positive learning experience. They are well-motivated, responsible and confident. In almost all classes, learning is active. Children respond well to a wide range of opportunities to learn and work with others. Children are beginning to review their own learning. They have an increasing awareness of what they need to do to improve their learning. In the nursery class, most children engage well in a range of experiences, playing together, taking turns and sharing toys. Most are able to concentrate well during story time and whole group activities. Children s achievements are celebrated regularly. Across the primary 2

5 stages, children produce a wide range of original and creative art work. Children have very positive attitudes to healthy lifestyles and to caring for the environment. Children in the upper stages develop a range of skills as playground pals, Friendshippers and Buddies to younger children. Children are able to use information and communications technologies very well for a range of purposes. For example, children in P7 are able to film, edit and produce simple documentaries using video cameras and computers. In the nursery class, children are making progress. They listen carefully and respond enthusiastically to stories and songs. A few use the book corner independently. Children are beginning to explore early writing. Most children can identify and use some numbers and colours. They can recognise simple shapes and patterns. In recent years, almost all children across the primary classes have achieved appropriate national levels in reading and mathematics. Most have done so in writing. Children s listening and talking skills are well developed. Almost all children are making appropriate progress in reading. Children regularly produce extended writing for a variety of purposes, including very imaginative responses to computer games. Children across the school are making progress in mathematics. At all stages, children perform well in their classwork. Across the school there was scope to improve standards of presentation. Curriculum and meeting learning needs Staff in both the nursery class and primary school, are taking account of Curriculum for Excellence in planning children s learning. In the nursery, children benefit from a range of experiences. They have some opportunities to develop early literacy and numeracy in play activities. In the primary school, children have access to a broad and balanced experience. Children benefit from being taught by specialist teachers in a range of curricular areas. Staff make innovative use of computer games to provide highly motivating contexts for learning. The school makes very use of its partnership with local businesses and others to provide real life and 3

6 meaningful contexts for children s learning. The school has taken a number of positive steps to develop whole school approaches to health and well-being, including a very well structured whole school programme in personal, social and health education. Although children have high-quality experiences in physical education, they do not experience two hours a week. The school is taking steps to develop a more structured mathematics programme. In the nursery class, staff know children and their families well and are sensitive to their individual circumstances and needs. Staff record observations of children s learning well. They now need to use the information more effectively to identify what children will learn next. In the primary classes, tasks set as part of children s classwork are well matched to children s learning needs. However, in a few classes staff need to set more challenging tasks, particularly for higher attaining children. Arrangements for meeting the needs of children who require additional support in their learning are very effective, including arrangements for working in partnership with other agencies. Children have well set out individualised educational programmes that are reviewed regularly with children and parents. There are very effective arrangements for assessing the needs and providing support to children who move to the school during the school session. 4. How well do staff work with others to support children s learning? Parents of children in the nursery class and the primary school are very positive about their involvement in their children s learning. In the nursery class, communication with parents is effective. Parents receive an information pack outlining provision at the nursery. The school arranges helpful induction sessions for parents. In both the nursery class and the primary school, parents receive regular and very informative newsletters and information about the curriculum. Parents welcome these and find them very helpful. The school also arranges regular information evenings for parents. These events include opportunities to find out about Curriculum for Excellence and 4

7 the wider work of the school. They are very well attended. Parents are invited to visit their children s classes at least once each year to look at the work of the class. The Parent Council is very active and supportive of the school. There are parent representatives on the school s health promotion committee. The school has consulted and communicated very well with parents in developing its programme for relationships and healthy lifestyles. The school has introduced new approaches to reporting to parents. These provide clear indications of children s progress and take very account of the experiences and outcomes set out within Curriculum for Excellence. 5. Are staff and children actively involved in improving their school community? Children play an active part in contributing to the life and work of the school through membership of a range of committees. These include the eco-committee, the pupil council and health committee. Children in the pupil council are very positive. They feel they are listened to by staff. They have raised significant sums of money for charities. They have been involved in designing the school s litter bins and outdoor play areas and purchasing goalposts for the sports field. The eco-committee is very active and the school has achieved the silver award as part of its Eco-Schools Scotland work. The health committee has been very influential in encouraging children to have positive attitudes to healthy eating and living. Staff are very well motivated and work effectively together in teams. Their work has a clear focus on ensuring children have consistently high-quality experiences across classes. The school has arrangements for improving its work through self-evaluation. It now needs to ensure that these approaches focus more systematically on monitoring children s coursework. In particular, across both the nursery class and primary school, senior staff should develop approaches for moderating and validating teachers assessments of children s progress. The school has introduced promising arrangements for involving children in reviewing their learning and plans to develop this work further. 5

8 6. Does the school have high expectations of all children? The nursery class and primary school have a welcoming and inclusive ethos. Relationships between children and staff are very positive. Children and staff are proud of the school. Staff have high expectations of children s behaviour and attitudes. There is scope for some staff to have higher expectations for the quality of children s presentation of their coursework. Staff are alert to children s personal, emotional and social needs. There are very effective arrangements for safeguarding children. The school is developing children s awareness of cultural diversity and global citizenship very well. For example, the school has established links with a school in Uganda. Children have written letters to children in the school and have raised funds for resources. There are appropriate opportunities for religious observance. 7. Does the school have a clear sense of direction? The school has a very clear sense of direction. The headteacher has very successfully built a culture where staff are enabled to lead developments across the nursery class and primary school. Staff have responded very positively. A significant number have taken on leadership roles for a range of aspects of the work of the nursery class and primary school. Overall, they undertake these roles very effectively. The school is well placed to continue to improve. 6

9 8. What happens next? We are confident that the school will be able to make the necessary improvements in light of the inspection findings. As a result, we will make no further visits in connection with this inspection. The school and the education authority will inform parents about the school s progress in improving the quality of education. We have agreed the following areas for improvement with the school and education authority. Build on current approaches to self-evaluation with an increased focus on monitoring children s progress in their coursework. Continue to develop the curriculum in line with the school s current plans. Continue to develop approaches to personal learning planning and involving children in reviewing their learning. At the last Care Commission inspection of the nursery class there no requirements or recommendations. 7

10 Quality indicators help schools and nursery classes, education authorities and inspectors to judge what is and what needs to be improved in the work of a school and a nursery class. You can find these quality indicators in the HMIE publications How is our school? and The Child at the Centre. Following the inspection of each school, the Scottish Government gathers evaluations of three important quality indicators to keep track of how well all Scottish schools and nursery classes are doing. Here are the evaluations for Balmedie Primary School and Nursery Class. Primary school Improvements in performance Learners experiences Meeting learning needs very Nursery class Improvements in performance Children s experiences Meeting learning needs We also evaluated the following aspects of the work of the school and nursery class. The curriculum Improvement through self-evaluation HM Inspector: Chris Webb 23 August

11 When we write reports, we use the following word scale so that our readers can see clearly what our judgments mean. excellent means outstanding, sector leading very means major strengths means important strengths with some areas for improvement satisfactory means strengths just outweigh weaknesses weak means important weaknesses unsatisfactory means major weaknesses If you would like to find out more about our inspections or get an electronic copy of this report, please go to Please contact us if you want to know how to get the report in a different format, for example, in a translation, or if you wish to comment about any aspect of our inspections. You can contact us at or write to us at BMCT, HM Inspectorate of Education, Denholm House, Almondvale Business Park, Almondvale Way, Livingston EH54 6GA. Text phone users can contact us on This is a service for deaf users. Please do not use this number for voice calls as the line will not connect you to a member of staff. You can find our complaints procedure on our website or alternatively you can contact our Complaints Manager, at the address above or by telephoning Crown Copyright 2011 HM Inspectorate of Education

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