Struggling Sheffield primary school now on right track, say inspectors

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Inspectors have backed a Sheffield school’s recovery plan on their first visit since the school was found to have serious weaknesses.

Southey Green Primary School, part of the Tapton Schools Academy Trust, was found to be going through a period of significant change, with members of a new senior leadership team bringing in a range of initiatives.

Their moves were designed to improve teaching, management and leadership at all levels, with realistic, yet challenging targets set.

The school received a critical inspection report in September, after its conversion to academy status in April 2013.

Since then a number of staff had left, while there were now seven newly qualified teachers working there.

Inspectors noted a shift in culture and ethos manifested in a ‘can do’ attitude which was enhancing the pace of change.

But the new leadership team – led by executive headteachers David Bowes and Angela Lant – were under no illusions as to what needed to be done to improve both teaching and standards achieved by pupils.

Teachers had produced measurable targets in terms of what youngsters could be expected to achieve.

Staff had been made more accountable and were raising their own expectations and those of the pupils too.

However, inspectors were unhappy with plans produced by the academy trust which they said did not contain sufficiently challenging targets or define suitable arrangements for checking the school’s progress.

It was also unclear who would be the key people supporting Southey Green in achieving the improvements needed, and no indication of any timescale within which improvements were expected.

They called for the shortcomings to be addressed as soon as possible.