Kensworth is a little school with a big heart, say Ofsted inspectors
School dog Luna also gets a mention
A small school with a big heart is how Ofsted inspectors have described Kensworth Church of England Academy.
The school, on Common Road, has 78 pupils who are happy to be there and work hard, said lead inspector Steve Mellors.
"They love coming to school to learn and play with their friends. Pupils feel safe. They think of their school as one big family. Many parents agree. A typical parent comment stated, ‘There is a wonderful sense of community.’"
Rating the school as 'good', Mr Mellors said pupils are expected to listen and try their best.
One of the attractions at the school, the school dog Luna, also came in for praise. "Pupils enjoy sharing their work with the school dog, Luna. They are proud to wear Luna’s stickers in recognition of special achievements. Pupils said that talking to Luna always makes them feel calm and settled. Pupils understand and value each other’s differences. Pupils said that is important to accept one another, and that differences can make everyone feel special."
Mr Mellors said: "Leaders have a clear and shared understanding for what they want pupils to know by the time they leave.
"They have planned an ambitious curriculum that covers all subjects expected. Leaders have ensured that their plans match the needs of pupils where classes include mixed-age groupings.
"Leaders identify the order in which staff should teach this knowledge to pupils. This ensures that pupils build their learning on what they already know. Pupils can talk about what they are learning.
"However, this is not the case in all subjects, such as geography. Pupils’ understanding is less secure in a few subjects. This is because leaders have not clearly identified the essential knowledge that pupils need to learn. In most subjects, leaders know how well pupils are progressing. Leaders check how well pupils are learning the curriculum. Leaders have only recently introduced new assessment approaches, and so their checks are not as effective across all subjects. In these cases, leaders do not know what pupils have remembered over time."
Inspectors found pupils become successful readers and a love of reading is promoted.
There was also praise for inclusivity. "All pupils learn the same curriculum, including pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Staff identify the needs of pupils with SEND quickly and accurately. Leaders help teachers to adapt their plans to meet the wide-ranging needs of pupils with SEND. As a result, these pupils learn and achieve well," they said.
Leaders promote pupils’ personal development well. For example, pupils enjoy making suggestions about how they can improve the school, serve as school councillors and lead and organise lunchtime clubs.
"Through the Christian ethos, they discuss what it means to be courageous and kind. Pupils are well prepared for life in modern Britain," said Mr Mellors.
The school is part of the Diocese of St Albans Multi-Academy Trust, which is working closely with the new local governing board to develop governors’ roles.
"There is still more work to be done to ensure that governors fully understand the impact of the school’s curriculum,£ said Mr Mellor. "Governors and leaders ensure that the workload of staff is manageable. Safeguarding The arrangements for safeguarding are effective. Leaders, governors and staff have created a strong culture of safeguarding."
To improve, Mr Mellor said some work needed to be done on improving how some subjects were delivered, and in some foundation subjects, the system of assessment is still being developed and embedded.
"Leaders should ensure that they review their assessment approaches, so that they understand what pupils have learned over time across all subjects," he said.
"Governors should develop their knowledge of the school so that they provide leaders with even more appropriate challenge and support."