A LARGE Hampshire junior school has been praised for making very significant improvements in its work.

Inspectors pointed to very good management of the school and the excellent leadership of headteacher Rhod Porch, senior staff and governors in their report on Sun Hill Junior School, Alresford, for the Office for Standards in education.

Since a previous inspection in March 1998 improvements made have been very good and the school is well placed to maintain rapid improvement.

Inspectors visited the school in October 2000 and found that the overall quality of teaching and learning at Sun Hill was 'much better' than was the case in its last inspection.

In 1998, 26 per cent of the teaching was judged to be unsatisfactory with ten per cent rated as poor.

But now all of the assessed lessons were found to be at least satisfactory, with 37 per cent being good and a further 18 per cent being very good.

The report stated: "Lessons are planned with great care and almost all lessons are characterised by high expectations, secure subject knowledge, good organisation, a brisk pace and a good use of day-to-day assessment."

In addition, standards in both literacy and numeracy are both very good and regarded by the inspection team as a 'major strength'.

The school, which has a large number of pupils with special educational needs, has concentrated on improving the quality of its English, mathematics, science and information and communications technology classes.

It was found that Sun Hill now delivers very good overall standards in English, while standards in science have risen from satisfactory overall to good.

The report pointed to the quality of pupil's personal development, the provision for pupils' moral and social development, procedures for child protection and the monitoring of academic and personal development as other areas of the school's improvement.

However, a lack of balance was highlighted in the curriculum with 'insufficient emphasis' given to the teaching of art, design and technology, geography, history, music, physical education and religious education.

Inspectors also pointed out that provision for pupils' spiritual development was unsatisfactory and that whole-school acts of worship do not always meet statutory requirements.

But the inspectors said that the behaviour of pupils is generally good throughout the school and that an effective partnership has been developed between the school and parents.

The report states: "Parents generally have positive views of the school and are pleased with recent improvements that have been made. Links with parents are good and the school takes great care to ensure that parents are well-informed about how their children are progressing."

According to the report, parents are most pleased with the quality of teaching, the way they are encouraged to approach the school if a problem exists and that their children enjoy going to Sun Hill.

Some parents would still like to see improvements in the range of activities the school provides outside of lessons, the work the children are expected to do at home and the lack of balance in the curriculum, particularly with regards to arts and PE.

Mr Porch said that he, the deputy and the governors were all 'delighted' with the report.

He added: "We all feel very proud of being a 'good school with many significant strengths."

Vital Statistics

Number of pupils: 260

Age range: 7-11 years

Pupils with special needs: 24.9 per cent

Pupils eligible for free school meals: 5 per cent

Pupils with English as an additional language: 0