Ofsted praise for St John’s Wood infant school

George Eliot deemed ‘satisfactory’ 18 months after it was failing

A St John’s Wood school has been taken out of special measures just 18 months after Ofsted inspectors judged that it was failing its pupils.

George Eliot Infant School in Marlborough Hill taught 180 pupils aged three to seven. It will close on December 31 and re-open as part of the extended junior school, which is on the same site, in the New Year.

When Ofsted inspector Bradley Simmons visited the school for two days last month, he judged it as “satisfactory”.

This was a marked improvement on a visit from Ofsted inspectors in September 2009 when they found that the two-form entry infants’ school required special measures.

Mr Simmons wrote in the recently published report: “18 months ago, George Eliot Infant School was failing its pupils. Put simply, this was because teachers in this infant school did not fully realise the potential of their pupils and standards were too low.

“Since that time, the impact of teaching on learning has improved. Many teachers now use time targets so that pupils know they have to work quickly and productively.”

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He continued: “Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector is of the opinion that George Eliot Infant School no longer requires special measures. It is now a satisfactory school which continues to improve and is providing its pupils with an acceptable standard of education.”

The report noted that pupils are drawn from a wide range of different ethnic groups and nine out of 10 speak English as an additional language.

It also reported that an above average number of pupils join or leave the school throughout the year and the proportion of pupils on free school meals is almost three times the national average.

Mr Simmons said that a key player in the improvement of the school had been the deputy headteacher who has supported staff while challenging them to raise standards.

He added that appointing the “experienced and dynamic” headteacher of the junior school, Beatrix Simpson, as acting headteacher of the infants from September 2010, “had the effect of doubling the impetus for improvement and the school’s capacity to improve.”

Ms Simpson will lead the enlarged junior school on the same site from January.

Although the inspector was full of praise for the improvements the school had made, he said that teachers could accelerate pupils’ progress in speaking, reading and writing by: improving teachers subject knowledge in phonics; ensuring all staff provide good models of standard English for pupils and increasing the impact of teaching in maths by undertaking a regular and systematic analysis of gaps in individual pupils’ skills.

However, Michael O’Connor, Westminster Council’s strategic director for children and young people, welcomed the report.

He said: “We are very pleased that the school has improved significantly in a short space of time and is now out of special measures.

“This is a testament to the hard work of staff and pupils and we have every confidence the school will be able to build on this success and continue to make improvements year on year.”