Sheffield primary school under fire in report

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A Sheffield Catholic primary school has been rapped by inspectors who have ruled that improvements are needed.

Pupils at St Patrick’s RC Voluntary Academy at Sheffield Lane Top are not achieving well or making good enough progress throughout the school due to inconsistent teaching.

Staff were not always setting work which sufficiently challenged pupils of all abilities, hampering progress.

By the time children left school they were making expected levels of progress, the report says, though writing was a problem area.

But the school, the governors and the diocese have all challenged the report, saying it contains ‘contradictory statements’.

They insist the youngest children are surpassing Government targets, while five to seven-year-olds are above national averages in reading and maths.

Older pupils are falling below national benchmarks, the school admits, but says some pupils are achieving well above expected pass rates.

The report is critical of marking systems which often do not help pupils make good progress, while children did not have regular opportunities to practise literacy and numeracy skills in other lessons.

Activities for the youngest pupils were not carefully planned or well resourced, particularly outdoors, so not encouraging them to explore, investigate and achieve.

Attendance rates were not high enough to enable all pupils to reach their potential, and procedures for checking and addressing the issue were not strong enough.

Leadership and management also required improvement with senior staff failing to assess pupils regularly or to drive up improvement more quickly.

The report calls for improved teaching throughout the school, while the foundation pupils must learn and develop more swiftly.

Positive points were the good behaviour of the children, who learned and played together harmoniously, while there was praise for the headteacher’s effective methods in teaching reading, writing and maths.

Headteacher Nuala Nelis said priorities for the school now would be improving teaching quality and boosting standards in writing.

Despite criticism she said the school’s attendance levels were reaching the national average of 95.6 per cent - but the target now was to surpass that with the parents’ support.

“We will improve the quality of teaching and learning to good or outstanding - this remains always in our sights,” she said.

“Targets set for next year will clearly show that children will make good progress, with many areas at or above the national average,” Mrs Nelis added.

The school expects to be inspected again this term.