Flora Gardens School “requires improvement”

There was a discouraging verdict from Ofsted recently for Flora Gardens Primary School. It was “requires improvement”. I am not someone who thinks that Ofsted always get it right. But those concerns should certainly be taken seriously.

Among other criticisms Ofsted said:

  • Some teachers do not use information about what pupils can do to plan work that will challenge the
    full range of ability. This slows down progress, particularly for the most able pupils.
  • There is not enough evidence in pupils’ books of them writing at length in a range of contexts and subjects. There are also not sufficient opportunities for them to solve problems in mathematics. On occasions, presentation is untidy and handwriting is careless.
  • Communication with parents does not give them enough information about the school’s work and their children’s learning.
  • Governors do not have a strong enough grasp of all aspects of the school’s work. The support and challenge they are able to provide to improve the quality of teaching and achievement are not as effective as
    they could be.

I have written to the headmistress Sonia Birch-Woodcock asking to visit the school to discuss her response. (I have not yet had a reply which is not terribly encouraging.) If your are a parent at the school I would be interested to hear your thoughts. Does the school communicate well? Are able children challenged? Are the governors doing an effective job?

Anyway I also wrote to Ian Heggs, the Borough’s Director for Schools.


I was concerned to see the Ofsted report for Flora Gardens School concluding that the school “required improvement”.

Am I right that it is above the threshold for Level 4 in English and maths and so it doesn’t have to become a sponsored academy even with a poor Ofsted?
Would it be a good idea to encourage this anyway? (Greenside and Lena Gardens weren’t forced to become sponsored academies, were they?) What else could be done? Replace some of the governors?

Best wishes,
He replied:

Dear Harry,
Re – Flora Gardens Primary School.
Thank you for your enquiry about Flora Gardens Primary School.
I would like to assure you that the Education Service is prioritising Flora Gardens for support and is working closely with the school leadership and governors to enable them to bring about the improvements that are needed and are identified in the recent Ofsted report. Our highly experienced principal lead adviser, Jenny Bax, is assigned to the school and action has been taken to provide additional leadership support from a neighbouring outstanding school, Miles Coverdale. There is also a programme for monitoring progress against key actions in place. This has included a joint LA-school improvement board which meets regularly to look at the actions being taken and external reviews of governance and teaching and learning, which are taking place this term.
As a requiring improvement school there is not currently a Government presumption that Flora Gardens will become an academy. As you state, the schools results are currently not below the floor target standards for Key Stage 2 outcomes. However, as with all schools in situations such as this, in terms of ensuring that the necessary progress is made, all options will be kept under review by the governing body and by the Local Authority. I attach a copy of our School Improvement Framework, which will also provide some helpful context to the Local Authority’s remit working with the school.

That document is here.

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