A PRIMARY school has suffered a sharp fall in performance and now ‘requires improvement’, according to education watchdogs.

A team from Ofsted graded Tadley Community Primary School as ‘requires improvement’ following a visit in February – the school had previously been rated as ‘outstanding’.

The report, published this month, highlighted some of the problems, which included teachers not having high enough expectations of what pupils can achieve; inconsistent marking; too few pupils making better than expected progress; pupils writing skills not developing well enough; checks by leaders and managers on the quality of teaching and learning not being rigorous enough; and a small group of pupils not always behaving well.

Various strengths were also noted in the report, including the quality of teaching in Year 5 and 6; achievement in maths; arrangements to keep pupils safe; and the support for pupils with special educational needs.

The school was graded as ‘outstanding’ in 2007 and an interim inspection in October 2010 confirmed that this performance had been sustained.

But the latest report said: “The quality of teaching over time has not been strong enough to ensure good progress in English, especially in writing.

“Recent checks on the quality of teaching and learning showed that over time, teaching has been weaker in Years 1 to 4.

“Very recent support from the local authority has also identified that some of the school’s monitoring has not been rigorous enough to identify all areas where improvement was needed.

“However, this is changing and the current senior leaders are beginning to check the quality of teaching more thoroughly.”

The report said that although some good teaching was observed, the quality of teaching over time is “less consistently strong in Years 1 and 4. In many year groups, teachers have lower expectations of what pupils can achieve in a given time and allow pupils to chat socially rather than settling to their tasks.”

It added: “Where teaching fails to motivate them, some pupils, mainly boys, talk socially, interrupt the teachers and play with equipment rather than listening to the teacher or completing the task set. This slows learning and reduces progress. A small but significant group of boys tend to be boisterous on the playground.”

The report did, however, note that behaviour in general was good, adding: “Pupils are polite, friendly and courteous.”

The school, which has 393 pupils on roll, currently has two acting headteachers – Rhoda Elvin and Kylie Thomson.

The report said: “The temporary arrangements, pending the appointment of a substantive headteacher, are effective and the improvements that have already occurred in achievement in Years 3 and 4, in attendance and behaviour, demonstrate that the school has the capacity to improve further.”

In a statement, the acting headteachers’ told The Gazette they were “naturally disappointed” with the grading.

They added that the outcome was partly because of the Ofsted inspection changes, but recognised that pupils’ achievement in writing needs to improve.

The statement said the school has a “robust improvement plan that addresses the issues highlighted in the report” which includes continuing to raise attainment for all children, challenging the more able children, establishing more rigorous monitoring procedures and improving the system for checking pupils’ progress.

It added: “We are confident that these measures can be achieved and result in the school achieving a more favourable report at the next inspection. We thank staff and parents for their continued support.”