Woodlands Primary School on Norton Avenue, Gleadless, and part of Mercia Learning Trust, has been judged as ‘Good’ across all areas following a 2018 judgement of ‘Requires Improvement’.
The school, formerly known as Valley Park Primary School, had a name change in January 2022 and was shortly followed by a two-day Ofsted inspection on February 9 and 10.
In the report, the education watchdog highlighted that the school is a ‘caring and welcoming environment’, ‘pupils play and learn in a respectful and caring way’ and ‘the staff have high expectations for all pupils and provide care and support to help pupils in their journey through school.
The inspectors also praised the school for making the pupils ‘feel safe and know to report any concerns they have to an adult’, and the staff listened to and appreciate the measures leaders take to reduce their workload.
The transformation, said the school, began when the trust appointed a new headteacher who had a ‘powerful vision for its future and steadfast commitment to improve the school.’
Headteacher Lauren Johnstone said: “I was looking for a headship in a school requiring improvement as I knew I had the determination and skills to completely transform a school for the benefit of the pupils and community.
“It doesn’t matter where a school is geographically located or what the history of the school is; there was no reason why this school could not improve if the team was fully committed and had the support and resources necessary.”
A team achievement
The team, the school said, made a ‘massive investment’ in the learning and physical environment, drawing on safeguarding, SEND, school improvement and central team expertise from across the trust.
The headteacher added: “This ‘Good’ judgement has truly been a team achievement. The herculean efforts of my staff have paid dividends, and finally we have a school our children deserve and can be proud of.”
When she was appointed she said: “Woodlands Primary is a school which places the child at the centre of everything that we do with inspirational learning processes that provide opportunities for holistic growth.”
Woodlands Primary has a forest school on site and offers the children opportunity to experience outdoor learning on a regular basis.
As well as fully refurbishing the school, the team have removed virtually all plastic equipment and resources, replacing them with natural, “curiosity-approach”, materials.
The curriculum has been designed to meet the needs of the children, with a relentless focus on reading, writing and maths, and a wide range of foundation subjects, underpinned by equalities and protected characteristics.
Over recent months, the school said it has experienced a marked increase in interest from local families, resulting in some year groups being on waiting lists.
Louise Haigh MP for Sheffield Heeley said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Ofsted had inspected Woodlands Primary School and provided them with a Good rating. This is a testament to the hard work of all the staff, children and parents who have been working together for the school and the local community.”