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'Additional support' needed for Highland school after 'weak' learning rating during inspection

By Philip Murray

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Ardersier Primary School.
Ardersier Primary School.

A primary school will need "additional support" after inspectors rated its learning, teaching and assessment as 'weak' during their latest visit – despite also praising the staff for establishing a "nurturing learning environment".

Education Scotland issued the recommendation for extra support after visiting Ardersier Primary School back in November.

During that inspection, the findings of which have just been published, Education Scotland rated the school's work to raise pupil attainment and achievement as 'satisfactory.

But the weak rating in teaching and assessment has prompted a number of recommendations.

"As a result of our inspection findings we think that the school needs additional support and more time to make necessary improvements," said Education Scotland in its inspection summary. "We will liaise with The Highland Council regarding the school’s capacity to improve.

"We will return to carry out a further inspection of the school within 12 months of the publication of this [document]. We will discuss with The Highland Council the details of this inspection."

During the inspection, Education Scotland found a number of strengths in the school's work.

These included polite, friendly children "who are eager to participate in learning and work well with each other". Inspectors also praised the "strong relationships" that the headteacher and staff have created across the school, adding that "they have established a nurturing learning environment".

They also praised the approached developed by the headteacher to check on children's progress, stating that "these help staff to identify and take action when children are not reaching expected levels of attainment".

However, several areas for improvement were also identified and raised with the headteacher and Highland Council.

Inspectors said that the school will need to "improve approaches to learning, teaching and assessment to ensure a consistently high quality for all children across the school", and added that this will "help ensure that learning is meeting the needs of all children".

They also called on the school to "review approaches to planning to ensure children’s learning time is used well to support improved progress across all areas of the curriculum".

They added that the primary needs to "improve children’s attainment in literacy and numeracy, targetting gaps in children’s learning to ensure all children make the best possible progress".

Education Scotland added that when it returns to the school to inspect the primary, it will inform parents and carers of the progress the school has made in tackling these various areas.

The inspection report's findings relate only to Ardersier Primary School. Inspectors stressed that the primary school's nursery had already been inspected by the Care Inspectorate within the last 18 months and, as such, was not part of the latest inspection.

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