Sheffield school is told to improve

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An inner city Sheffield primary school requires improvement, inspectors have found - as it works hard to cope with increasing numbers of pupils.

Whiteways, in Grimesthorpe, has already been turned from a junior school into a primary due to increasing numbers of children in the area needing places.

The majority of youngsters are from Pakistani backgrounds, with increasing numbers of Roma, East European and Yemeni pupils joining the school throughout the year.

Most children speak English as a second language and the number of pupils coming and going is higher than the national average.

Inspectors also found that there had been many staffing changes, with almost a third of the teachers new to the school this term.

The school was also being led by an acting head, in post for two terms, with governors seeking to make a permanent appointment.

Their report says not enough of the pupils are making good progress and by the time they leave, standards in reading, writing and maths are below average.

The quality of teaching was inconsistent throughout the school as staff did not yet have the knowledge and skills needed to ensure pupils made rapid advances in reading.

The teachers’ expectations of how their pupils should do were not always high enough, with work given to them not challenging them to achieve their best.

Inspectors also criticised the school for not giving pupils enough opportunities to use their writing and maths skills in other subjects.

Newly-appointed senior staff did not yet have the skills to help the school make rapid improvement, while governors did not hold the school closely enough to account for its performance.

The report recommends an external review to see how governance can be improved so it can fulfil statutory duties.

But the inspectors found positive signs too, saying teachers had high ambitions for driving the school forward.

Despite challenges caused by the many staff changes, the school was still improving steadily.

More of the teaching was judged to be good and pupil attainment was starting to rise.

The youngest children were getting a good start to their education and pupils throughout the primary were found to be well behaved, respectful, eager to learn and showed pride in their school.

The youngsters were also safe and well cared for, while partnerships with parents, the community and other schools were strong.

There was also praise for the way Whiteways accepted, respected and valued the heritage and cultures of the pupils’ families, promoting their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.