School ordered by Ofsted to improve set to expand in numbers from 420 to 630 as nine classroom extension unveiled

Artist's impression of the extension proposed for Orchards Primary School, Wisbech Artist's impression of the extension proposed for Orchards Primary School, Wisbech

Thursday, January 2, 2014
3:12 PM

A Wisbech primary school criticised by Ofsted and ordered to improve is to expand in size from two form entry with 420 pupils to three form entry and capacity for 630.

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Cambridgeshire County Council has unveiled plans for the additional nine classrooms and central atrium that will form part of the expanded Orchards Church of England Primary School in Cherry Road.

In June a two day inspection by Ofsted described behaviour and safety of pupils as good but in other aspects- achievement, quality of teaching and leadership and management- they said improvements were needed.

Teaching specifically was described as not good enough to ensure all pupils, including those who need extra help, make good progress.

And teachers were criticised for producing work that was “insufficiently challenging” for more able students and told their introductions to lessons and explanations were too long.

A follow up inspection in October found “senior leaders and governors taking effective action” to bring about improvements but variability in the quality of teaching needed correcting, said inspectors.

Elaine Taylor, the lead inspector, felt pupils were starting to make better progress and teaching though still variable in quality, was improving.

“Teachers are starting to address the weaknesses identified at the last inspection,” she said.

And she felt school leaders had begun to have some “notable successes” engaging with parents to play a more active role.

“The action plan that the local authority has drawn up for the school is fit for purpose,” said Ms Taylor. “It would benefit from greater clarity in the role governors will take in monitoring and evaluating progress towards the targets in the plan.”

Moves to extend the school, says the county council, will also involving refurbishing existing areas. The original school dates from the 1970s although originally it comprised a separate infant and junior school which were amalgamated into one primary school 10 years ago.

In a report now before the county planning committee, officers say two public meetings were held to explain the extension although of 54 people who attended, 36 were staff and only seven parents turned up.

Officers say the feedback though was positive and issues relating to parking and access were incorporated into the final design.

For example a new motorised vehicle barrier will be added to the overflow cart park at Tinkers Drove that can be controlled remotely and will provide further security to the site.

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