Bedford primary schools praised for improvement and given ‘good’ OFSTED rating

Andy George, headteacher of Shackleton Primary, Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First (navy coat), Mohammed Yasin MP.

Two Bedford primary schools are celebrating ‘good’ ratings after recent visits from OFSTED inspections.

After several challenging years and a number of different headteachers, inspectors described Shackleton Primary, off Elstow Road, as having “a buzz” and exuding the “feeling that something interesting is going on from the moment you walk through the door”.

In 2019 the school became part of HEART Academies Trust and OFSTED said the “instability and unhappiness” of the past “had changed” and that over the past two years the school has had “strong and secure leadership”.

“The school has improved quickly,” they said. “Leaders have high expectations both for and of pupils. Pupils rise to these expectations and learn the curriculum well.”

Inspectors gave the school an overall rating of “good” and said its teachers had “a strong belief in the power of education to change pupils’ lives”. This, they said, has had a “big impact” on how quickly the school had improved.

Recently introduced initiatives include daily reading time, drop-in rhyme time, sensory play and story sessions for local families with young children.

Andy George, Headteacher of Shackleton Primary School, said: “The work we have put into ensuring our curriculum is well planned and connective meant that inspectors could help us to look at our next steps of developing an even wider, rich set of opportunities for our children to benefit from.”

Shortstown Primary School in Cardington, also part of HEART Academies Trust, received a ‘good’ rating from their recent OFSTED inspection.

Inspectors said they were impressed at pupils’ knowledge of the human heart and vocabulary.

“Children enjoy learning about others and the world around them,” they said. “Pupils have positive attitudes to learning and like to help each other, especially when someone is new to the school.” Inspectors described the school overall as “good”.

Denise Cottam, Headteacher of Shortstown Primary School, said: “The two-day inspection was challenging, but we are pleased the inspectors recognised the hard work of all staff in supporting the children and the community.

“The children were excellent advocates of our school and shared our ethos and values with the inspection team.”

David Morris, Chief Executive Officer of HEART Academies Trust, said: “I am so proud of what both schools have achieved, especially given the challenges they have faced over the last two years. They put children and the community at the centre of everything they do.

“At HEART Academies Trust, we support our schools so that they can give children in Bedford an excellent education and we’re delighted that inspectors have acknowledged this.”