How Trent Primary School became Outstanding - and what the Ofsted inspectors did next...

By David Leighton 

An interview and case study with the Headteacher of Trent CE Primary whose use of Third Space Learning 1-to-1 Maths tuition contributed to their Ofsted Outstanding rating. The review from the Ofsted inspector was so positive they introduced Third Space into their own school afterwards!

Trent CE Primary School is a smaller than average primary school of 208 pupils, with a significant proportion from Greek Orthodox tradition (over half). An average proportion of pupils speak EAL and 23 pupils are eligible for pupil premium, or are previously looked after.

I spoke to the Headteacher of the school, Louise Yarwood, to discuss the recent 'Outstanding' report from Ofsted (find the full report at the bottom of the page) and the response that the inspectors had to the school's use of interventions.

From the Outstanding Ofsted Report for Trent CE Primary
"Leaders use the additional funding the school receives effectively to ensure that disadvantaged pupils make the best possible progress. A range of interventions and activities, including one-to-one support and small-group work, has a strong impact on pupils’ learning and progress. For example, the school has organised mathematics teaching in Years 5 and 6 so that work can be matched closely to pupils’ individual needs. Teachers and teaching assistants support all pupils, including the lower attainers and those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, extremely well."

 

What was your response to Trent CE Primary's Ofsted Report from November 2016?

'We were very pleased with the outcome of our Ofsted report - we were found to be Outstanding in all areas. We were judged to be extremely successful in creating a school in which everyone is valued and able to be the best they can.

Ofsted noted and understood that we nurture and care for every individual child and their family and that this is the basis of our academic achievement.'

How does Third Space Learning work in the context of your school?

'We started with a small number of pupils using Third Space. For us, Third Space fits in best with those key pupils we know need support in Maths.

Before using Third Space, we’d been looking at all sorts of intervention programmes to help pupils with their Maths. After choosing Third Space we found they were suitable to help groups of pupils who were struggling in Maths, but they were also suited for pupils who needed to improve their focus.

Having their headsets on, in front of a monitor, in a quiet room with only a few other pupils really helps pupils concentrate for a whole 45 minutes.

What are the benefits of the 1-to-1 tuition for your pupils?

Third Space Learning is amazingly helpful to pupils who need a more visual structure to their Maths learning, we also found that pupils whose thought processes take a little while longer were well-supported by talking through their thoughts with their tutor.

After using Third Space Learning for a whole year, we’ve discovered that the payoff is not only in the self-esteem of pupils, but also in developing their concentration skills. Since starting Third Space Learning, we’ve seen that pupils using the intervention have been able to concentrate for longer.'

What key factors would you say contributed to your ‘Outstanding’ rating?

'I think that for us, to be Outstanding means that the whole school cares about every individual pupil, that we know each pupil well and we do everything we can to help that child enjoy school, succeed at school, and to belong.

Of course, when you have that, children feel safe, and that’s what underpins our academic success.'

How does Third Space Learning align with your values?

'Well, for us Third Space Learning tutors are one of the tools we use to meet the individual needs of children. We've seen that the dedicated time each pupil gets each week is tip-top teaching from the tutors (or why else would we pay for it?). Knowing Third Space tutors are consistently competent is great because, with their weekly reports, the class teacher gets a strong indication of what each pupil needs to do, whilst also delegating some of the teaching to tutors.

Plus, while it’s great that Third Space saves teachers’ time, to us what’s important is that they align with our ethos of caring about each individual pupil.'

How did the Ofsted inspectors review Third Space Learning?

During our second day of the inspection, which was also “Third Space Thursday”, one of the additional inspectors observed a session and was so impressed that she actually phoned Third Space that day and introduced it into her school!

What was particularly powerful was when a pupil went back into class and explained a concept that the inspector had seen them struggle with at the start of a Third Space session. The inspector literally saw pupils go from ‘I find this tricky’, to ‘I can do it’.

Moments like that remind us that we can trust the quality of teaching each child has. 

What about the practicalities of having several pupils at a time speaking to tutors over the internet?

'If ever the internet connection goes down, Third Space are very responsive. At the onset, our headsets turned up in good time too.

The other thing we find really useful is that the emails to schools get straight to the point. We’ve found that Third Space Learning are acutely aware of the limited time a teacher has, and that’s a great factor.'

What are the reactions of the pupils to their 1-to-1 tuition?

'Pupils love their 1-to-1 tuition, they even remember when it’s time for their sessions. We actually had the mother of one of our girls on Third Space Learning intervention ask if she can pay to put her son on the course because he watched his sister on it and likes it so much. He’ll be doing it next year now!'

What might you say to someone who was considering Third Space Learning?

'We were working out today that having 18 children doing a Third Space session at the same time at £16 per child is more cost-effective than hiring a mid-range teacher for a day a week to work with individual pupils.

For us, to take a child OUT of the lesson with their teacher, the intervention has to be better than the learning in class. Our teachers are really super so the fact that we use Third Space at all is saying something: Third Space Learning lessons are absolutely great - or we wouldn’t use them.'

Find out more about Third Space Learning's 1-to-1 Maths specialist intervention by visiting our Year 6 SATs foundation page, and for more information on earlier years, see our Year 3, 4, & 5 catch up programme

Ofsted report for Trent Primary - find the full report here.

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