School focus: Gleadless Primary

Members of Gleadless Primary's school council outside the new school
Members of Gleadless Primary's school council outside the new school
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Children at Gleadless Primary are finally being taught on one site after more than four decades of being split over two buildings.

There were smiles all round at the official opening of the school's new junior building, which means for the first time in 45 years youngsters are all on one site.

School council memebers with The Lord Mayor of Sheffield Anne Murphy, executive headteacher Vanessa Langley and head of school Jen Hunt.

School council memebers with The Lord Mayor of Sheffield Anne Murphy, executive headteacher Vanessa Langley and head of school Jen Hunt.

Infant aged pupils have moved from the Victorian building across the road, which has been home to education since 1889, into what used to house the junior school children.

Their revamped building has seen the configuration of classrooms altered and new outdoor facilities created.

The junior school pupils have moved into a new purpose-built two storey block which features spacious state-of-the-art classrooms.

Executive headteacher Vanessa Langley said when she took over as interim executive headteacher in 2013 she found a school 'in a poor state of disrepair'.

Kiernan Clithero, nine, and Billy Bartles, ten. with The Lord Mayor of Sheffield Anne Murphy

Kiernan Clithero, nine, and Billy Bartles, ten. with The Lord Mayor of Sheffield Anne Murphy

"Buckets were a common feature of corridors and classrooms, collecting the torrents of water when the roof leaked," she said.

"The environment was not fit for purpose but there were some areas I knew we could improve quickly and that some, however long term the vision had to be, would eventually be addressed with a new build and remodelling of the junior site.

"The challenges of the economic downturn had an impact on the timescales for any future development and we had to be patient.

"Knowing that the school had a poor budget position there was no other choice than to rally parents, colleagues, governors and friends of the school for ‘weekends of action’.

School council members Lilly-Jo Dodd, eight, and Bailey Carter, nine.

School council members Lilly-Jo Dodd, eight, and Bailey Carter, nine.

"We repainted areas inside and outside the classroom, replaced some of the external doors and cleared clutter in our bid to create a fresher, more welcoming place for the pupils, parents and colleagues. The school had started its journey of transformation.

"We engaged the support of Sheffield Council in extensive roof repairs. It was clear that patching up was not the answer and that there was a desperate need to secure the future of the school.

"The process of rebuilding the Victorian infant school and remodelling the junior school had been ongoing for a number of years and was reactivated and led by our governors and our outstanding school business manager, Catherine Udall.

"Whilst I focused the teaching team on standards and raising attainment, Catherine worked with Sheffield Council to address building issues and attempt to bring the two buildings together onto one new site. She was persistent and unrelenting in her drive to get the community the new build we desperately needed. She has been the driving force behind the building we have today."

Pupils entertain guests at the official opening

Pupils entertain guests at the official opening

Mrs Langley said that as well as improving the building, the school was on a journey to raise standards.

"Teaching and learning were deemed to require improvement and I set about working with the every capable team to improve the lessons provided to pupils, increase the trips and visits on offer, started to work with community groups to improve the reputation of the school and introduced core values and a house points reward system," she said.

Children started to win trophies at sporting events and other competitions and an outreach programme was developed with Sheffield Girls' High and the University of Sheffield to enhance extra-curricular opportunities.

The school was inspected in 2016 and achieved good in all areas afters several year of being graded as requires improvement and this year it celebrated above national average results for Key Stage Two.

Mrs Langley said there is now a real sense of community at the school.

"Gleadless pupils are a joy. I am very proud of all that we have achieved in this time and look forward to the next stage of the school’s future as we welcome our new head of school Mrs Jen Hunt to the team," she added."

Pupils entertain guests at the official opening

Pupils entertain guests at the official opening

An official opening ceremony for the junior building was held with the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Coun Anne Murphy, cutting the ribbon on the bridge which links the junior and infant buildings together.

Guests including governors and teachers, past and present, and community supporters got a tour of the new building by members of the school council.

Pupils took part in a ballroom release in the playground to mark the occasion before singing for guests.

Year five pupils Kiernan Clithero and Billy Bartles, who are both members of the school council, were chosen to take Coun Murphy around the new building.

Kiernan, aged nine, said: "The best thing about the new building is the classrooms - they are so big and bright."

Billy, ten, said each class has a representative on the school council.

"We meet once a week, but if we have a special event like today then we meet three of four days before it to sort things out," he said.

"Before our meetings we go around with a book and ask everyone what the school needs or what would make the school better.

"We write it down and then take this to the school council. Sometimes we get money to make things event better at the school."

Councillor Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “It’s fantastic to see the opening of the new Gleadless Primary School.

"The new buildings bring together the school’s nursery, infant and junior facilities on to one site providing pupils with excellent new premises for teaching and learning.

"The new building will be a real asset to build on the outstanding work of the whole school community.”

Pupils entertain guests at the official opening

Pupils entertain guests at the official opening