Family & Education

Ofsted thumbs-up for Etz Chaim primary

”Nurturing’ Orthodox free school is graded good by inspectors


Making a good impression: children at Etz Chaim primary

Etz Chaim Primary has been rated good in all areas in its first inspection since 2017.

Pupils enjoyed coming to “this nurturing school” where there were high ambitions for their achievements, Ofsted said.

Additional roles undertaken by older students such as library monitors or digital leaders enabled them to contribute to the wider life of the school; they were confident in suggesting ways to raise funds for the local community and beyond; and enjoyed events linked to the school’s Jewish character.

Staff had “secure subject knowledge, design interesting lessons and explain new concepts clearly” which helped pupils to “build their knowledge across a breadth of subjects”. However, sometimes assessment was not used precisely enough to check learning before moving on to a new topic, Ofsted reported.

A new behaviour policy was “helping pupils to develop higher levels of self-control and attention to learning,” Ofsted said.

Pupils enjoyed learning about different religious festivals and exploring character traits through religious texts. “They understand that they live in a diverse society and embrace each other’s different beliefs and values,” inspectors said.

Hannah Martin, who became head of the Orthodox free school in September 2022, said she was pleased inspectors had “recognised the positive impact of the changes we have made over the last 12 to 18 months.

“One of my early priorities on joining the school was to change the way lessons are taught, moving from continuous provision to whole class teaching - the model used in 90 per cent of schools up and down the country. This introduced a very different way of learning for the children, but I have been extremely impressed with how well they have adapted.

“As a staff body we have really noticed how the changes have positively impacted pupils desire to be the best learners they can be, which was also recognised during the inspection.

She was reassured to “see that the inspectors received comments from parents praising our warm, nurturing and supportive atmosphere. This is not only what makes the school community a joy to be part of, but it is this environment that forms the essence of the school being somewhere that children want to come and learn."

Co-chair of governors, Sam Shaerf and Lizzie Bennett, said the verdict was “testament to all the hard work that has been put in by Mrs Martin, her team and the governing Body over the last 18 months. We take great pride in seeing the direction that Etz Chaim is heading, especially when we hear the great things being said about the school from fellow parents and members of the wider local and Jewish community."

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