A SCHOOL has reassured parents after being downgraded from a 'good' rating for the first time in at least 20 years.

Long Wittenham CE Primary School near Didcot has been judged to 'require improvement' by Ofsted, after decades of upholding a 'good' rating.

The latest report, published on Valentine's Day following inspection last month, states that quality of teaching at the school is 'variable' despite a 'broad and balanced' curriculum.

It adds that, although steps are being taken to drive change, it is 'too soon to measure the impact'.

Ofsted rated the school 'requires improvement' in three areas, but 'good' for categories of 'early years provision' and 'personal development, behaviour and welfare', resulting in an overall judgement of 'requires improvement' - the second-worst of Ofsted's four standards.

There were many positives in the assessment of the 90-pupil school, however, and the inspector said new teachers have 'added fresh impetus to the momentum for change'.

The inspector said governors boast 'expertise' and 'know precisely which areas the school needs to improve'.

Ofsted's website lists reports for the school dating back to 1999, all of which resulted in 'good' ratings.

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The most recent full inspection was in 2014 but a short check-up inspection last year did raise some areas of concern, although there was no change to the 'good' rating as a result.

The school's head and chair of governors both sent out lengthy letters to parents about the report, reassuring them that their plan for improvement is already securing positive change.

Headteacher Alison Bellingham wrote: "Having become head here in 2016, our school has seen vast changes, all of which have been entirely necessary to improve outcomes for our pupils.

"We have experienced 100 per cent turnover in teaching staff and 40 per cent turnover in support staff which inevitably brings challenges in embedding our ethos and vision.

"We are now finally in a place to drive change and ensure that all staff strive for excellence in all that they do."

She noted that Ofsted's criteria is now 'far more rigorous than ever before'.

Her letter added: "Our judgement feels very raw at the moment after the huge amount of dedication and sheer hard work this team puts into our school.

"In our opinion this [report] does not read like a school in requires improvement, but a school in the middle of a long and extremely focused journey rooted in a commitment to strive for rapid, accelerated and sustained progress for all of our pupils, no matter what their needs."