Two primary schools in Stevenage have been downgraded from 'good' to 'requires improvement' following recent Ofsted inspections.

St Nicholas Church of England Primary School and Nursery and Longmeadow Primary School were inspected in February and March this year respectively, with reports published by Ofsted last week.

Both schools continue to be rated 'good' in some of the five categories up for inspection. However under the current inspection framework, the lowest rating given for any of the categories is used as the overall rating.

Many schools have been downgraded by Ofsted in recent years - in November 2022, Ofsted said that it had downgraded more than 80 per cent of the previously 'outstanding' schools it had inspected in 2021/22.

Locally, St Thomas More Roman Catholic Primary School, Icknield Infant and Nursery School, and Roecroft Lower School have all been downgraded this year.

St Nicholas Church of England Primary School and Nursery

The last full Ofsted inspection of St Nicholas had been in May 2016, with another inspection in 2020 finding that it remained a 'good' school.

However, that inspection did express concern that standards were declining.

Now, the school has been downgraded to 'requires improvement' after it was judged to meet the criteria for that rating in two of the five areas up for inspection: quality of education, and leadership and management.

The Comet: St Nicholas School is located in Six Hills Way in Stevenage.St Nicholas School is located in Six Hills Way in Stevenage. (Image: Google Maps)

St Nicholas continues to be rated 'good' in the other five inspection areas: behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and early years provision.

Inspectors commended the school for its efforts in many areas, including the behaviour and hard work of pupils, support for pupils with SEND, safeguarding arrangements, and their approach to teaching phonics.

The Ofsted report also sets out four specific areas in which the school can improve.

  1. The reading curriculum in key stage 2 is not as coherently sequenced as it should be.
  2. In many subjects, there are inconsistencies in how effectively the planned curriculum is taught and assessed.
  3. There is not an agreed approach towards monitoring the quality of the curriculum across all subjects.
  4. Governors must ensure they are able to rigorously and robustly hold staff to account for the quality of education in the school.

A spokesperson for the school told the Comet: "Although there were some weaker areas identified by Ofsted, the school was encouraged to see that all of the areas mentioned had already been identified and prioritised in the school development plan that Mrs Collins, headteacher, implemented shortly after her arrival in September 2022.

"As a school community we would like to recognise and celebrate the school’s successes while acknowledging the work still needed to improve the school so that it can attain an overall ‘good’.  

"To achieve this, we will continue to work on the areas identified by providing staff training, seeking advice from external professionals and introducing a more robust assessment and monitoring system. 

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"As we move forward we hold on to the opening paragraph of the report: 

"'Pupils are happy and safe at St Nicholas. The shared values of the school ensures that pupils feel part of the school community. Pupils look after and include each other during lessons and on the school playground. The diverse backgrounds of pupils are something that is celebrated and pupils are proud to ‘come from lots of different places but make one big family’ .

"Our recent International Day confirmed what a wonderful school we are with all our families coming together for an afternoon of food, dance and festivities. "

Longmeadow Primary School

Longmeadow had not been inspected since 2016, when inspectors found it to be a 'good' school, rating it 'good' in every inspection category.

However, the inspection earlier this year downgraded it to 'requires improvement' in every category except one - behaviour and attitudes.

The Comet: Longmeadow Primary School is located in Oaks Cross in Stevenage.Longmeadow Primary School is located in Oaks Cross in Stevenage. (Image: Danny Loo)

Despite the downgrading, the Ofsted report continues to praise the school for its safeguarding arrangements, for creating an environment where most pupils have positive attitudes to learning, and for having an "ambitious new curriculum", among other things.

Inspectors provided three specific areas in which the school can improve.

  1. Teachers do not all follow the school’s chosen phonics programme with precision.
  2. Historic weaknesses in the curriculum have led to pupils having gaps in their learning.
  3. Leaders’ planning of an effective programme for pupils’ personal development is at an early stage.


A spokesperson for Longmeadow Primary School told the Comet:"We are obviously disappointed with the ‘requires improvement’ rating following our recent Ofsted inspection. 

"However, we are pleased that Ofsted identified some very strong areas of the school, including noting that Longmeadow is a friendly, welcoming school where pupils are resilient, happy and safe and that the new leadership team is determined to improve the quality of education at the school.

"The curriculum helps pupils build up knowledge in each subject gradually and leaders provide training to support teachers' subject knowledge. Teachers explain new concepts clearly and use questioning to check pupils understanding. 

"Comments around the success of the new behaviour policy were also really heartening to hear, with inspectors saying that the new behaviour policy has had a strong impact in a short time: 'In classrooms, the atmosphere is generally calm and purposeful because pupils know the expectations.' 

"As were comments about our provision for pupils with SEND, stating that pupils with special educational needs are well supported. Leaders have developed a robust system for identifying these pupils' needs and putting plans in place to meet them.

"Pupils with SEND access the same curriculum as their peers. This is thanks to their individualised provision and the well-trained adults who support them.

"However, we are aware that there are a number of areas that need addressing and we are already working within the school to ensure the new phonics scheme is delivered strongly and in the way in which it has been designed, ensuring further training is given to staff so that the new curriculum continues to be delivered well and ensuring our personal development program continues and grows.

"As such, we’re confident that we can address the issues that Ofsted has identified for improvement."