Inspectors order Sheffield school to improve

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Pupil achievement at one of Sheffield’s biggest secondary schools has ‘fallen sharply’ over the last two years, according to education inspectors who have ordered it to improve.

King Edward VII School in Broomhill – which has around 1,700 students including sixth- formers – needs better leadership and management, pupil achievement and teaching quality, its latest Ofsted report states.

Only pupil behaviour, safety and the sixth form were ranked ‘good’ in the report – elsewhere the school was ranked overall as ‘requiring improvement’.

The report said: “Achievement in English and maths has been falling sharply over the past two years. While there are signs of this improving, achievement still requires improvement, particularly for students of average ability.”

School leaders were described as ‘slow to respond’ to warning signs provided by the weak progress of middle ability students in 2011, which led to ‘further decline’.

While higher and lower ability students did reasonably well or made adequate progress, middle ability students were ‘left behind’.

The report blamed a lack of challenging targets, ‘not good enough’ teaching, and progress not being checked often enough by leaders.

“A raft of measures introduced over the past 18 months to turn around this alarming position is now paying dividends,” the report said.

“Close working with high-achieving schools, improved governance and the tackling of students’ progress are resulting in better teaching and improved achievement.”

Headteacher Beverley Jackson said: “The school was very aware the disappointing GCSE results in summer 2012 would be a limiting judgement on the grade the school could achieve, regardless of strengths in many other areas.

“Students this summer are already on course for much better exam results and we are swiftly addressing areas for improvement.

“Over 160 parents completed the Ofsted online questionnaire and we were delighted with the overwhelmingly positive response.

“The new Ofsted framework is challenging and the school is pleased no areas were identified as ‘causing concern’.

“We are absolutely confident and determined to lead the school through this temporary setback so it will be judged ‘good’ or better when next inspected in around two years.”

Tough Ofsted rules have been put in place since King Edward VII was last inspected, when it was ranked ‘good’.

This time – while achievement in some subjects such as science and languages was hailed good because of ‘skilled’ staff and ‘interactive’ teaching – the report said weaker teaching was ‘characterised by repetitive, mundane tasks given to students’.

There were overly long instructions and weak questioning that did not challenge pupils, leaving them ‘bored’.

Rates of progress are improving thanks to working with other schools and teachers being held to account, it added.

Foreign languages teaching was of very high quality, and in the sixth form it was good. King Edward had its best post-16 results ever last year.

The behaviour and safety of pupils was good, with youngsters getting on ‘exceptionally well’, bullying rare, and attendance above average.