TWO Ellesmere Port primary schools listed as 'requiring improvement' have made positive progress despite the challenges of Covid.

Ofsted inspectors recently gave a monitoring update to Westminster Community Primary School, in John Street, and Woodlands Primary School, in Eddisbury Road, Whitby.

Due to the Covid lockdown at the time, full inspections with new ratings were not possible, so an update was carried out remotely.

Her Majesty's Inspector John Tomlinson, writing to Westminster Community Primary School headteacher Sue Finch following the remote inspection on February 10-11, noted "many positive changes" had been made to the curriculum.

One third of the pupils at the time of the inspection were being educated in the school building, and "all staff" were "well trained in the systems to support home education", ensuring "pupils know they are still very much part of the Westminster family".

The inspector added: "All pupils have the same opportunities to learn, whether they are at home or at school," and younger and vulnerable pupils were still being taught effectively.

School governors were "well informed about the work of the school" and, in conclusion, "leaders and those responsible for governance are taking effective action to provide education in the current circumstances."

That was the same conclusion provided by Her Majesty's Inspector Joanne Olsson to Woodlands Primary headteacher Victoria Carr, following a remote inspection on February 3-4, during which one fifth of pupils were being taught on the school site and a small number of staff were absent due to Covid.

The inspector wrote: "You have deftly overcome the challenges caused by the third national lockdown. As a result, all pupils continue to enjoy a relevant and purposeful education, whether they learn in school or at home.

"In September 2020, you forged ahead with the implementation of the new curriculum. However, your plans to elevate teachers’ subject knowledge in order to teach the more ambitious curriculum content did not happen.

"Due to the pandemic, teachers’ training took a different tack. This has paid dividends for the current situation. All staff and pupils are well versed in the systems for remote education. This means that pupils have not lost learning time."

The inspector noted that while pupils were mostly following their typical curriculum in English and maths, that was not the case for subjects requiring specialist resources, such as art and science. Staff at the school were aware that pupils would return to school "with gaps in their knowledge".

The inspector added: "You have been particularly successful in ensuring that pupils with SEND continue to benefit from the same level of support that they usually receive."

Further improvements suggested by the inspector for Westminster Community Primary were to "ensure that recently implemented curriculums, especially for mathematics, are fully embedded in order to overcome the delays caused by the pandemic."

Further improvements suggested by the inspector for Woodlands Primary were to "ensure that staff have the necessary subject-specific knowledge that they need to deliver the new and more ambitious curriculum," and to "strengthen the links between the early years curriculum and the curriculum across the rest of the school. This is to enable subject leaders to take greater account of the building blocks that should be in place by the time pupils enter Year 1."