Short inspection of Little Munden Church of England Voluntary Controlled
Following my visit to the school on 13 December 2017, I write on behalf of Her
Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills to report the
inspection findings. The visit was the first short inspection carried out since the
school was judged to be good in February 2014.
This school continues to be good.
The leadership team has maintained the good quality of education in the school
since the last inspection. You, the staff and governors have accurately evaluated the
quality of education provided at the school and have addressed all the issues from
the previous inspection. You and the deputy headteacher have successfully built a
strong team of teachers and support staff. Everyone works together to ensure that
pupils get the best possible education.
Pupils love their school. At the whole-school school council meeting held during the
inspection, 100% of pupils indicated that they would recommend their school to
other pupils. One pupil commented, ‘We have the best teachers in the world! They
give us lots of confidence to help us get better.’ Another pupil said, ‘Our school is
nice because everyone is full of joy!’ Pupils really appreciate the opportunity to
choose the level of difficulty of their work in lessons: ‘Teachers make learning fun.
It’s not just, “You’re doing maths today, here’s your sheet!”’ Every group in the
school council commented on how much they enjoy learning. This was evident
when we visited classes and saw pupils getting on with their work and making an
effort to do their best. Pupils are also very enthusiastic about the ‘Munden Mile’.
Pupils said this daily exercise has improved their fitness.
You, the staff and governors take your church foundation very seriously and this is
a key feature of the school. Consequently, you have developed very strong links
with the local church. Pupils have taken on board your school values, which are
closely linked to fundamental British values. Pupils are polite and kind to each other
and to the adults they work with.
Parents speak very highly of the school. All of the 18 responses to Ofsted’s online
questionnaire, Parent View, were positive about every aspect of the school. All of
those parents who responded would recommend the school to other parents. I spoke
to a number of parents on the playground who are very pleased with how quickly
their children settle into school and how well they are getting on. One parent
commented: ‘If she’s happy, I’m happy. She’s come a long way with her reading.
She’s doing really well here.’ I also received an email from a parent who was full of
praise for this ‘super school’ – in particular the very warm welcome she receives from
you and the staff as well as with the good progress her child is making.
The staff talked very positively about your leadership and know the strengths of the
school and the areas that need further improvement. One teacher said: ‘The
headteacher is always accessible. She’s very hands-on and she’s calm. She makes
sure she doesn’t have a stressed staff.’ Consequently, staff morale is high because
teachers and support staff feel that they are valued. One commented, ‘The
headteacher is very good at finding people’s strengths and developing them.’ Staff
said that the training they receive helps them to improve their work.
Although your self-evaluation is accurate and has robust evidence to support your
judgements, the areas you identify for improvement do not appear in the school
development plan. You are in the process of rewriting this document.
Safeguarding is effective.
Safeguarding processes and procedures are fit for purpose. Staff have regular
training in how to ensure that pupils are safe and stay safe. For example, in staff
meetings, you regularly present possible safeguarding scenarios and staff discuss
how they would respond if this happened. You and the designated safeguarding
lead are tenacious in following up any concerns you have with children’s social care.
You keep careful track of every contact and keep telephoning until action is taken to
ensure that children are safe.
Pupils said that behaviour is typically good in class and on the playground. Pupils
understand that some pupils who have special educational needs (SEN) and/or
disabilities have difficulty behaving appropriately at times. Pupils said incidents of
poor behaviour are rare and staff sort these out very quickly. Two of the four
respondents to the pupil questionnaire said that there are occasional incidents of
bullying but staff immediately deal with these and there are no further problems.
My first line of enquiry was how you ensure that pupils who have SEN and/or
disabilities are rapidly and accurately identified and provision enables them to
make the best progress from their starting points.
You have a high proportion of pupils receiving school support because the SEN
coordinator (SENCo) is exceptionally effective in identifying and making
appropriate provision to support pupils’ individual special needs. For example, at
your half-termly staff meetings, you discuss the progress that pupils are making
and whether any pupils are falling behind and why this is the case.
The SENCo makes sure that staff have appropriate training. For example, all staff
have received training from a local special school about how to manage difficult
behaviour and autism. The SENCo works with teachers, parents and pupils to
ensure that pupils have sharply focused learning and behaviour targets. These
are evaluated daily by the teaching assistant working with the pupil and
adjustments made if needed. The SENCo keeps a very careful watch on how
pupils are getting on and gives further advice and support where required. As a
result, pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities make consistently good progress
from their starting points.
My second line of enquiry was focused on pupil outcomes, which vary
considerably from one year to the next due to the very small numbers of pupils in
each year group. I wanted to check whether pupils are making good progress
even though the outcomes data, particularly for Year 6 in 2017, did not meet
Two years ago, you introduced an approach in all lessons of allowing pupils to
choose the level of the learning task they would work on. Your purpose was to
address the issue about giving sufficient challenge to the most able pupils from
the last inspection. This initiative has had a good impact on all pupils as well as
the most able. When we looked at a range of pupils’ work across the school, it
was clear that pupils are challenging themselves at the right level. They are not
choosing work that is too easy or too difficult. If they are tempted to make the
wrong choice, teachers guide them to the right choice.
The impact of this approach is that all pupils are making good progress from their
starting points. Pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities find choosing tasks highly
motivating. They are no longer afraid to ‘have a go’ at new work and do not rely
on adults helping them to complete tasks.
During our learning walk, we saw that pupils are absorbed in their work because
they enjoy learning. When we looked through pupils’ books, we saw that pupils are
correcting and improving their work and that their spelling has improved, an issue
from the last inspection, but presentation is not consistently neat and careful in
handwriting or in writing numbers. This is an area for further improvement.
My third line of enquiry was about how rapidly you identify any barriers that
pupils have to learning phonics and how you deal with these. During our learning
walk, we observed effective and systematic phonics teaching from teachers and
support staff. Pupils learn to read rapidly because of this effective teaching. In
2017, a small group of pupils did not reach the national standard in the phonics
check. This was due to their SEN. This group of pupils is now in Year 2 and are
making good progress in learning to read.
My fourth line of enquiry was about the curriculum in the early years and
whether this enables children, in particular boys, to develop their listening and
attention, manage their feelings and behaviour, make relationships and be
imaginative. These aspects of learning and development were below average in
2016. The early years leader made good provision for this group of boys during
their time in the early years class. For example, staff showed children how to play
appropriately with the activities set out for them. Current assessment information
indicates that all children are on track to achieve the early learning goals in these
aspects of their development.
The early years curriculum is broad and carefully designed and caters for the
interests of boys and girls. The early years leader and her staff make detailed
observations of what interests the children and make sure that these interests
are included in their planning. Effective use is made of the outside area during
lessons, another issue from the last inspection that has been successfully
addressed. The early years leader and I scrutinised the children’s learning
journeys, which are an effective record of the good progress that children make
over time. It was clear from children’s written work that they do not have regular
opportunities to practise accurately forming letters and numbers. This has an
impact on their presentation in Year 1, which is not consistently tidy.
My final line of enquiry was about how effective the school is in raising attendance
and reducing persistent absence. You are doing everything you can to ensure that
pupils arrive at school on time and attend school every day. Your effective actions
have raised attendance so it is in line with national levels and last year there were
no persistent absentees. This term, pupils have been away from school due to
illness but current attendance is still in line with the national average.
Next steps for the school
Leaders and those responsible for governance should ensure that:
the school development plan includes the priorities for improvement identified in
the school’s self-evaluation
pupils regularly practise accurate letter and number formation and that
presentation in pupils’ books meets the school’s required high standard.
I am copying this letter to the chair of the governing body, the director of education
for the Diocese of St Albans, the regional schools commissioner and the director of
children’s services for Hertfordshire. This letter will be published on the Ofsted
Her Majesty’s Inspector
Information about the inspection
During the inspection, I spoke to you, the governors, your school improvement
partner, representatives from the local authority and Diocese of St Albans, leaders
for the early years, SEN and the designated safeguarding lead, the staff, pupils and
parents. We observed learning and teaching in all classes, including phonics and
writing. I scrutinised a range of documents, including your self-evaluation and
school development plan. I scrutinised a range of pupils’ books in lessons. I had a
meeting with a group of most able pupils and looked at their books with them. I
scrutinised a range of safeguarding documentation and a sample of pupil files. I
analysed Parent View, the online questionnaire for parents, and the online staff and