A HEREFORDSHIRE primary school rated outstanding by Ofsted has been told that its grade might not be as high when they next have a full inspection.

But when Canon Pyon CE Academy, near Hereford, was visited by inspectors, they left saying that it was still an outstanding school where pupils thrived.

Inspectors said the school, which promotes its Christian ethos, also has strong links with the local community and staff work closely with families, but they did highlight two areas for improvement.

Pupils are caring and bullying is rare

Inspectors said pupils care and look after one another, with a "buddy stop" initiative in the playground to invite other children to take part in games and conversation.

In their report of the March 1 visit, Jonathan Leonard and Matt Meckin said: "Relationships are positive. Bullying is extremely rare. Pupils trust adults to sort problems out.

"This helps all pupils to feel happy and safe."

The pair also said leaders place great emphasis on promoting pupils’ self-belief and confidence, and there is a sense of pride at the school.

They added: "Adults have high expectations for pupils. Pupils enjoy studying a broad range of subjects.

"However, the curriculum could be improved even further to ensure that pupils reach their full potential."

School might not be outstanding next time

Ofsted's visit was a section eight inspection, which is different to a full inspection.

These types of visits are carried out once a school is judged to be understanding, inspectors revisit roughly once every four years to confirm that rating is still correct.

But inspectors said "evidence gathered suggests that the inspection grade might not be as high if a full inspection were carried out now".

This means a full inspection will be carried out within the next two years.

Room to improve

But inspectors said to improve, subject leaders' approach to assessing what pupils know and remember is not fully developed, which makes it hard to judge how much progress is being made.

They also said there is some variation in staff expertise, and staff do not always choose learning activities that help pupils learn as well as they might.

Leaders should continue to develop staff subject knowledge so that they become more expert in all the subjects that they teach," they said.

School leaders are 'especially focussed'

But still praising the school in their report, inspectors said that while there have been recent changes in leadership, they have a clear vision to give pupils an exceptional education and are "especially focussed" on developing the quality of the curriculum.

As for the teachers, inspectors said they make sure children, who behave well, understand what they are being taught, and they can identity pupils who need extra support.

They also support children with special educational needs and/or disabilities well.

"Staff are experienced and understand the aims of the school’s curriculum," inspectors said.

"They plan lessons that stimulate pupils’ thinking and promote a love of learning. Leaders advance teachers’ development through professional networking.

"This includes opportunities to work with staff from other local schools.

"However, there is some variation in adults’ subject knowledge. Sometimes, the tasks that teachers set are not well matched to pupils’ abilities. This limits pupils’ learning."

Safeguarding was also said to be effective, and members of the small staff team work well together and high morale "impacts positively on pupils' experiences".