Headteacher praised for swift improvements at Wigan primary school

A headteacher has made “transformational changes” at a Wigan school since she started work at the beginning of the academic year.
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That was the verdict of Ofsted inspectors who carried out a two-day visit to Abram Bryn Gates Primary School in Bamfurlong.

They found Gillian Talbot had quickly taken action in a number of areas to improve the school since taking charge

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Lead inspector Liz Kelly wrote: “As soon as the very experienced executive headteacher took up post in September, she made important changes which have improved the school significantly.

Gillian TalbotGillian Talbot
Gillian Talbot

“She has done this while managing a difficult financial situation and improving staff morale.

“Staff are enthusiastic about the changes and are keen to give the executive headteacher their full support.

“The executive headteacher, ably supported by the long-standing deputy headteacher and a highly effective governing body, is well on the way to transforming how and what pupils learn in all subjects.

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“She has made teachers more ambitious about what pupils should achieve.”

Ofsted found pupils enjoyed learning because lessons were “varied and interesting”, they were “seldom” absent from school and reported there was no bullying.

Pupils’ progress in reading and maths had improved “considerably”, after three years of pupils not achieving well by the end of years two and six. However, there had not been time to make up for all of the gaps in pupils’ learning.

Changes have been made to the learning programme, which ensured children learn things in a logical order, and the plan for learning in reception was “organised and ambitious”.

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Staff had training in how to develop pupils’ memory and in some subjects, older children could remembers things they had learned in year one, but there were “considerable lapses” in memory in other subjects.

Pupils’ behaviour was managed “well”, with support for the “small minority” of children who needed it.

The school was judged to be “good” in four out of five areas, but the quality of education was found to “require improvement”.

This latter rating was the overall score given, the same as in its previous inspection in 2018.

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Inspectors said that while changes had made a positive impact, because they were recent the impact was not fully evident in pupils’ reading and maths from years one to six. They wanted the changes to be sustained and extended.

They also said there should be more opportunities for children to recap work and changes to the curriculum in science and foundation subjects, so it takes into account opportunities for learning in the local area and gaps in pupils’ skills and life experiences.

Joanne Buckler, the school’s chairman of governors, said: “The judgement of ‘requires improvement’ does not fully represent the hard work of everyone in the school over the last 12 months, but does represent the changes and difficulties that the school has endeavoured to overcome over the last three years.

“The governing body and I are confident that the continued improvements that are required will be made and the school will continue to move forward with the current senior leadership team and staffing, with the support of the governing body.

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“We are very proud of the children, staff and parents of our school.”

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