An Aberdeenshire primary school has been ranked as “weak”, including for learning and teaching, in a damning inspection report.
Watchdog Education Scotland visited Torphins Primary School in June, which at the time had 158 pupils.
Education Scotland’s quality indicators for primary schools are divided into two sections; learning, teaching and assessment, and raising attainment and achievement.
For both of these, the school was ranked as weak.
For learning, teaching and assessment, the report acknowledges that children in the school are “confident and eager” to learn, as well as demonstrating a “willingness” to be active participants.
The report acknowledged that “in a few classes, teachers provide succinct explanations and instructions for children, and establish clear routines that make best use of the teaching time available”.
However, it found that this is not yet consistent practice across the school.
As well as this, another thing that is not used in harmony across Torphins School is teachers “using verbal and written feedback effectively”, with it not being used to a “consistently high standard” and only in a few classes.
Children becoming ‘disengaged and passive’
For planning and learning, the report acknowledged that teachers “should take better account of children’s differing stages of development and their learning needs”, with tasks and activities failing to “sufficiently meet the needs of all learners”.
With too many lessons being “overly teacher led” and lacking “appropriate” pace, the report says that children become “disengaged and passive”.
In the report, the school’s tracking and monitoring system, which was implemented by the headteacher – who has been in position since 2022 – gets a mention.
Although he leads tracking and attainment meetings with each teacher three times per year, Education Scotland said this approach is “not yet rigorous enough” in order to monitor the impact of planned actions, including to raise attainment.
On raising attainment and achievement, the report found that literacy and numeracy was weak, as was attainment and progress in listening and talking, and reading and writing.
As well as this, the report found that the school was “unable to provide robust attainment data for children across the school”, which included those with additional support needs (ASN).
It also found that ASN pupils are “not making sufficient progress from their prior learning” and that children across the school are “capable of making much better progress”.
Despite the issues in the report, the school’s nursery received a “good rating” for its two sections; learning, teaching and assessment, and securing children’s progress.
Also, regarding the school, it stated that “staff have created a happy, safe and respectful environment which supports children’s learning and development effectively”.
The following areas for improvement have been identified for the school:
• Improve the overall quality of learning and teaching.
• Ensure all learning activities are planned at the right level.
• Review approaches to tracking, monitoring and assessment in the primary stages.
‘Committed to driving forward the improvements’
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said: “Torphins Primary School is committed to driving forward the improvements required following the Education Scotland inspection in June.
“Work began immediately to address the issues raised in the report and the headteacher and staff team are working together, supported by local authority quality improvement colleagues, to address the key priorities.
“Progress has already been made towards meeting the requirements and areas for improvement set out in the report.”