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Russell Lower School

Ofsted reports

Dear Parents and Carers,


Ofsted Report


Following our recent Ofsted inspection, we are delighted to attach a copy of our Ofsted ‘letter’.


As I explained in my previous communication, as an already ‘Good’ school, we received an ‘ungraded Section 8 inspection’. This type of inspection is designed to determine whether the school continues to provide a good standard of education and if safeguarding is effective. THIS TYPE OF INSPECTION DOES NOT RESULT IN A CHANGE OF GRADE (for example to Requires Improvement or to Outstanding).


The key outcomes of the inspection in November were that; ‘Russell Lower School continues to be a good school’ and that ‘arrangements for safeguarding are effective.’


Since September 2019, Ofsted have introduced a new ‘Education Inspection Framework’ Under this new Ofsted framework it is now incredibly challenging to even retain a ‘good’ rating.  The proverbial ‘bar’ has been raised very significantly since the school was last inspected in 2016, particularly in terms of the curriculum, so to maintain this outcome is greatly positive.


As you know, throughout the inspection, parents, children, governors and staff were all phenomenal! Inspectors were so impressed by the warm, friendly welcome and the incredible behaviour and attitude of the children throughout.


The letter is extremely complimentary and the HMI (His Majesty’s Inspector) was staggered by the incredible feedback from parents, children and staff.  The Inspector had never seen anything like it before and was incredulous at the ‘Parent View’ responses.  We are delighted that everyone’s hard work has been recognised and the children’s achievements and successes celebrated through our continued recognition of being ‘a good school’. The letter and verbal feedback we received as part of the inspection was full of praise for everyone and the school environment.


Some key findings and quotes were:

“Leaders and staff have high expectations.”

“Pupils make good progress.”

“Pupils behave well because they have clear routines and boundaries… This enables them to learn.”

“Pupils understand that school is a place to work hard and they show positive attitudes towards learning.”    “Leaders promote pupils’ wider development well.”

“Leaders and staff prioritise reading.  Pupils enjoy reading and talk enthusiastically about books…staff have the expertise to teach reading and phonics consistently and well.”

“Pupils are friendly and happy.” “School is a nurturing and caring environment for all pupils.”

“Pupils benefit from a broad curriculum that develops their interests…leaders have developed a curriculum that ensures that pupils learn the knowledge and skills they need in order to be ready for the next stage of their education.”

 “Pupils are keen to share their knowledge and their ideas.  They enjoy talking about their learning and they show pride in their work.”

“Pupils say bullying is rare, but that when it happens, there are clear consequences.”

“Pupils are accepting of each other’s differences and interests.”

“Leaders ensure that pupils with SEND access the full curriculum…most pupils with SEND make strong progress.”

“Adults regularly check pupils’ learning in lesson…and address any misconceptions pupils may have.”

“Pupils are confident that all staff will help them if they need it.” “Leaders act promptly ensure that pupils get the help they need.”

“Pupils learn how to keep themselves safe.”

“Governors assure themselves that leaders’ work to improve the school is making a positive difference for all pupils.”

“Parents and carers are all very positive about the school.”


Staff and Governors are delighted that our hard work and commitment to high quality learning, teaching and excellent pastoral care and support has been recognised and feel that the Inspector made sound judgements and valued points that captured our school’s ethos.


The HMI also said in verbal feedback: ‘this school has lots of strengths,’ and also recognised  school’s leadership is ‘extremely strong’ and is well positioned to continue to move the school forward.  She also added: ‘The LSAs are incredible and they are really valued.  It is clear the staff here value and support each other and that workload and wellbeing is a priority and considered carefully.’  She said that the staff were ‘incredibly calm’ and that as a result, the children were too, and gave attention so they could learn.  She said ‘early reading is prioritised’, ‘subject knowledge is consistent and good’, ‘SEND support in the classroom is effective,’ ‘behaviour is excellent,’ and ‘the classrooms are of extremely high quality and filled with very useful information. She continued, ‘the children are utterly passionate about their learning, their teachers, their school and their Russell Rights.  They were so confident and wanted to tell me everything – they wouldn’t let me get away!’


The HMI identified only two ‘Next Steps’ to continue to develop our school further so that we can progress towards outstanding:

  • Reading books need to be even more precisely matched to the children’s phonics knowledge – this is something that we continue to do on an on-going basis and will certainly continue to focus on
  • Teachers need to continue to develop their subject knowledge in all subject areas to help children remember important subject knowledge – again, at Russell we are always continuing to develop this: for example, in 2023 we will focus on developing subject knowledge in the computing curriculum and school-wide writing expertise

Thank you for your incredible support during the inspection, and a huge thank you for all your support every week of the year. As I have said on many occasions before, Russell is one amazing community!  Thank you all.


Yours sincerely,

Nicki Walker                           Richard Gallagher                        

Headteacher                           Chair of Governors