School focus: Oasis Academy Don Valley

Pupils pictured with Principal James Pape and Head of Primary Claire Michels
Pupils pictured with Principal James Pape and Head of Primary Claire Michels
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Four years ago it was home to one of the largest athletics stadiums in the country.

And now the site which once housed the Don Valley Stadium is home to Oasis Academy Don Valley, a state-of-the-art school through-school.

Pictured in front of the books awards display are Sabrin Warsme, seven, Amina Wasiq, eight, Jameel Shaibi, eight, and Rayan Ajaz, eight

Pictured in front of the books awards display are Sabrin Warsme, seven, Amina Wasiq, eight, Jameel Shaibi, eight, and Rayan Ajaz, eight

The £17 million school, run by Oasis Learning Trust, opened its doors in 2015.

After two successful years operating as a nursery and primary school, work is now underway to prepare for the first cohort of secondary school pupils next September.

The school has brought much-needed school places to the Darnall and Attercliffe communities and offers children ‘exceptional teaching, with exceptional facilities,’ said principal James Pape.

Mr Pape has been involved with the school since its beginning and is excited about what the new secondary phase of the school will bring.

Teacher Rachael Cheetham with pupils Ridwan Ali, eight, and Muhammed Ali, eight

Teacher Rachael Cheetham with pupils Ridwan Ali, eight, and Muhammed Ali, eight

When it opened its door the school welcome 110 reception to year 4 pupils, along with around a dozen nursery children – but by 2023, the pupil roll will have grown to 1,200 primary, secondary and early years places.

Mr Pape said: “It’s a really exciting time for the growth of the school.

“We’ll have 90 children coming from our feeder schools and 15 children who are in our Year 6 class now.

“We are working with the other schools to enable as smooth a transition as possible.

Teacher Emilee Dunning with some of the new nursery starters

Teacher Emilee Dunning with some of the new nursery starters

“Our children in Year 6 know how it works here and have always had a classroom that is brand new.

“We want the other 90 children to also feel part of that family and we want to build relationships up very quickly.”

Among the state-of-the-art facilities primary children already have access to include a dance studio, teaching kitchen and radio studio.

Work is currently being carried out to facilities that secondary school-aged pupils will use such as design and technology rooms and science labs.

Pupils Abdul Sharif, ten, and Faiha Ashrafi, ten, in the school's new uniform

Pupils Abdul Sharif, ten, and Faiha Ashrafi, ten, in the school's new uniform

“We are currently looking at our facilities and developing them for the subjects,” Mr Pape said.

“We have kitted out the ICT suites, and are developing other areas to ensure that we can delivery a broad curriculum.

“We will have exceptional facilities to add to an already exceptional education.

“We want our kids to feel like they are worth it and can stand toe to toe with other children elsewhere in the city and not feel uncomfortable.”

Outside the school has ‘phenomenal’ facilities in the surrounding £55m Olympic Legacy Park which opened to the public last week.

Pupils have access to a 3G pitch that should one day become home to Sheffield Eagles rugby league team and possibly Sheffield United Ladies and a 100 metre running track.

Jamella Aldalai, four, and Noah Ali, four

Jamella Aldalai, four, and Noah Ali, four

The Park also houses the city’s second UTC and will also be home to a cutting edge Sheffield Hallam University research centre a basketball arena and offices.

“The facilities are phenomenal,” said Mr Pape.

“The pupils are going to be surrounded by elite sportsmen and women. They often do PE at the EIS which is nearby and Jess Ennis-Hill popped into our sports day there.

“In theory children can join us at two-years-old, leave at 16, move on to the UTC and then to the research centre. They can train for a career without every leaving this site.

“That is a legacy that we are developing.”

Year 6 pupils Kasib Ali, Eshab Farooqui, Sundas Boyle and Faiha Ashrafi are excited at the prospect of moving into the next stage of their school life.

Faiha, aged 10, said: “What I love about the school is we always get a brand new classroom.

“I also like the different opportunities we have. We can use the Olympic Legacy Park. We can play football, cricket and rounders.

“The UTC also helps us quite a lot with our sports and organise different things.”

During a tour of the school they proudly speak of the facilities and the opportunities available to them.

“Every Friday we get a treat,” said Kasib, 10. “All the children in school get to choose different activities to do like painting and Lego.

“We do it for half an hour. You choose three different activities to do so you can swap if you don’t enjoy something.

“We also have lots of clubs and have a league for our basketball, cricket and football teams.”

The school has various initiatives to encourage good behaviour and enabling children to develop vital skills. Older pupils get the chance to help in the school library and help lead on active playtime sessions.

“Every class has a class champion board,” said Sundas, 10. “If you do something good then you get one point. If you get to 50 points then you get a prize.”

Eshab, 10, added: “You get points for good behaviour, helping, listening well and doing good work.

“We also get 100 per cent trips and we get to go to the cinema and things.”

In the school grounds, pupils show off the playgrounds, roof top terrace and edible playground - where youngsters help grow fruit and vegetables.

The school is home to pupils of 16 different nationalities, with an Italian youngster the latest to join the school roll.

“We like it when more and more children come to the school,” said Sundas.

“If you get used to it being a small and quiet school then we won’t be used to things when we move up to secondary and it gets busy.”

An opening evening for children interested in joining the secondary phase from September is being held on Thursday, October 5, from 5pm to 7.30pm.

Pupils take part in active breaks

Pupils take part in active breaks