English Bicknor Church of England Primary School, located in Coleford, Gloucestershire, is a "tiny school with an enormous heart," according to the delighted parents. A recent Ofsted inspection held on 16 and 17 May 2023 noted the school’s overall effectiveness as 'Good' and praised its 'Outstanding' behaviour, attitudes, and leadership, and management.
An unequivocal sentiment permeated the inspection report: the children and their families are the lifeblood of this small but powerful institution. The school's values of trust, compassion, perseverance, and respect are markedly evident, and the pupils express a deep love for the varied offerings of the school. Owing to the high expectations set by the leaders, pupils have flourished, showing strong academic performance and exceptional behavioural standards.
From the Reception Year onwards, the pupils learn to support and care for each other, leading to a harmonious school atmosphere where disagreements are incredibly rare. The young attendees enjoy an assortment of clubs ranging from music to gardening and sports, fostering a strong sense of community and inclusivity.
The remarkable pastoral support offered by the school was also recognised, with staff members going 'above and beyond' for the pupils and their families. This additional care ensures that children feel happy, safe, and ready to learn.
However, the inspection found room for growth within the school's curriculum, particularly in foundation subjects. Although pupils are provided with an ambitious and exciting curriculum, it is yet to be fully embedded in all wider subjects. Consequently, pupils do not attain the intended knowledge they need to succeed in these areas. Acknowledging the importance of a comprehensive curriculum, the school's leaders have formulated plans to rectify this issue promptly.
Reading is prioritised, and phonics learning is initiated from the start, providing younger children with strong foundations. Staff members are well trained, and any pupils at risk of falling behind are swiftly identified and supported, allowing them to catch up with their classmates swiftly. This emphasis on early reading development is clearly appreciated, as pupils enthusiastically speak of their favourite books and authors.
The school’s Christian foundation significantly contributes to pupils’ spiritual and character development. Pupils demonstrate this foundation through their exemplary behaviour and considerate discussions around diverse religions, life choices, and family models.
The English Bicknor School is not merely about academic achievement. The leadership encourages pupils to learn about a range of jobs and professions through activities like 'careers week.' Older pupils have the chance to learn new skills such as bushcraft, navigation, and rock climbing during residential trips, thereby strengthening relationships and boosting their confidence.
Despite the noted areas for improvement, the school fosters a thriving atmosphere for adults too. The staff appreciates the leadership’s focus on their mental health and well-being, alongside providing opportunities for professional development.
Leaders and governors collaborate effectively, continuously striving to improve the quality of education and care provided to the pupils. Safeguarding measures are effective and robust, with a strong culture of safeguarding permeating throughout the school.