Best and worst performing Sheffield schools react to latest primary school league tables

The best and worst performing Sheffield primary schools have reacted to the latest primary school league table data published by the Department for Education.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 4:21 pm
Andrew Truby, executive headteacher at St Thomas of Canterbury School

The primary school league table data is based on how 11-year-olds in each school performed in their Sats tests which are taken at the end of primary school.

They provide a picture of how well each school is performing and track pupils' progress to hold schools to account and to allow parents to compare schools in their area.

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Acres Hill Primary School, Mather Road

Sheffield is just one per cent below the national average of 65 per cent when looking at the number of pupils reaching the expected combined standard across reading, writing and maths.

Totley Primary School was the best performing with 97 per cent of its pupils meeting the expected standard in reading, writing and maths – much higher than the combined average across the city.

Figures revealed the school on Sunnyvale Road has been on an upwards trajectory over the past three years, rising from 90 per cent in 2017 and 94 per cent the year after.

Pupils are also well above the national average in terms of the progress they made between the end of key stage 1 and the end of key stage 2 in both reading and writing – ranking Totley Primary with about 10 per cent of schools in England – while they are in line with the national average in maths.

Totley Primary School, in Totley

Speaking of the latest results, Headteacher Ben Paxman said: “We were absolutely delighted with our end of KS2 outcomes for the 2018-19 academic year. The fact that 97 per cent of children reached the combined expected standard is something to be really proud of and is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the children and staff at Totley Primary.

“Alongside this high level of attainment, progress in reading and writing was also well above average, which is especially pleasing as reading, in particular, has been and remains a priority area.

“Our aim is to nurture the academic and pastoral development of happy, hard working and successful children so that they fulfil their potential in every area and we believe that these results represent the fact that Totley Primary children are well prepared for their move onto secondary school.”

Meanwhile St Thomas of Canterbury School, in Meadowhead, was the second best performing in the city with 93 per cent of its pupils meeting the combined expected standard.

Sheffield primary schools have been reacting to the latest league tables

The school managed to excel when compared to 2018 figures which saw only 65 per cent of its students meet this criterion, a seven per cent drop on the previous year.

Pupils are in line with the national average across the board when it comes to progress made in reading, writing and maths however 22 per cent of them are achieving at a higher standard.

Headteacher Liam Colclough said: “These results are only a small element of what we do. Our aim is to provide children with a love of learning and a belief in themselves which enables them to be successful and compassionate adults. If they can leave our school with those traits, and be fluent readers, writers and mathematicians, then we can be proud of what they have achieved and what they will offer to their community.”

Executive headteacher Andrew Truby added: “I am extremely proud of all of the children within our school and, although our focus is certainly not on SATs results, this is testimony to the hard work of our children and staff and the encouragement of their parents.”

Arbourthorne Primary School, Eastern Avenue

Acres Hill Community Primary School fell below the average recorded by Sheffield Council, with 29 per cent of its pupils meeting the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.

But the school, in Darnall has praised by education watchdog Ofsted which found it to be ‘good’ during its most recent inspection – a turnaround from the previous ‘inadequate’ judgement three years ago after which it was placed into ‘special measures’.

However, the latest figures revealed pupils are above the national average in writing, putting Acres Hill alongside about eight per cent of schools in England compared to pupils across the country who got similar results at the end of key stage 1.

And Ofsted inspectors identified that pupils feel safe at Acres Hill and they care and respect each other while being polite and friendly to visitors, and their behaviour is said to have dramatically improved.

Leaders are also said to have high expectations for pupils, wanting the best for all, with an effective curriculum that makes learning memorable.

At the end of Key Stage 2 this year, 35 per cent of pupils at Arbourthorne Community Primary School were said to be meeting the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, with four per cent achieving at a higher standard.

The school is recognised as ‘good’ by Ofsted inspectors who said that children start school with skills well below those typically seen, remarking on the outstanding teaching which allows pupils to make rapid gains from their very low starting points.

In the primary league table data, pupils are well below average in terms of the reading progress score and below average in both writing and maths.

Despite being below the national average in terms of pupils meeting the combined expected standard, Arbourthorne Primary has made progress over the last three years rising from 25 per cent of pupils meeting the standard in 2017 to 36 per cent the year after.

Executive headteacher Vanessa Langley said: “The wider narrative is crucial here in terms of how schools are judged in the primary school league table data. Our school sits in the 600th most deprived area out of 32,000 nationally on the index of deprivation map. The primary league table data is just one measure of a school.

“Our children have significantly lower starting points and that is recognised by Ofsted. We have a robust curriculum which focuses on literacy and numeracy as well as the wider curriculum which aims to raise ambition. Each individual child that is expected to achieve standard will get it. No child is at expected standard when they arrive with us at three but they all leave having achieved great success.”