According to its latest Ofsted report, pupils at a nursery school in Forest of Dean have “significant gaps in their subject knowledge”. Coalway Community Infant School saw its rating go from “outstanding” in the previous inspection to “needing improvement” at the end of last year.

This first inspection was carried out more than 14 years ago in 2007. An interim inspection in 2010 revealed that the school was still maintaining its “outstanding” performance.

But during the inspection in November last year, inspectors Marie Thomas and Jane Dhillon significantly downgraded Coleford’s school in three out of five areas. They felt that the quality of education, its leadership and management, and its provision for early childhood all needed to be improved.

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However, in the last two domains – behavior and attitudes, and personal development – ​​the school was rated as ‘good’. While inspectors praised the school for instilling in children a love of reading, good behavior and attitudes towards peers and others, they signaled concern about gaps in the knowledge they needed to learn and remember.

“Students have significant gaps in their subject knowledge. Leaders have plans to help students close these gaps. However, they have not started this work,” the report states. “Subject leaders have identified curriculum content not covered during the national reading, writing and math closures. They have rightly changed the order in which the curriculum is taught in these subjects to ensure that students do not miss out on important knowledge.

“However, the essential knowledge that students need to know and retain in the subjects of the broader curriculum is not clearly identified. Therefore, teachers cannot check whether there are gaps in students’ knowledge. They cannot plan to close these gaps quickly.

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“Students are not able to make connections or acquire new knowledge. For example, students cannot order important events in the story because they have gaps in their knowledge.

Inspectors were also concerned about teaching standards for pupils with low ability and those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), which they said lacked ambition.

“This leads to students not reaching their potential. Leaders should support staff to enable them to make appropriate adaptations to the program to raise expectations and outcomes for all students.

They urged the school of 180 students to clearly identify the essential knowledge students need to know and retain, and said leaders must identify gaps and help teachers fill them quickly.

The school did not respond to requests for comment on the Ofsted report.

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