Sheffield secondary school is recovering from ‘critical incident’ but still ‘requires improvement’, say Ofsted inspectors

A Sheffield secondary school is recovering from the ‘shock of a critical incident’ but still ‘requires improvement’, according to a new report by Ofsted.

By Alana Roberts
Thursday, 28th March 2019, 10:54 am
Updated Thursday, 28th March 2019, 10:58 am
Ofsted acknowledged the 'determined actions' of staff to re-set standards at Fir Vale School
Ofsted acknowledged the 'determined actions' of staff to re-set standards at Fir Vale School

Fir Vale School, in Fir Vale, hit headlines in September 2018 after a fight between students escalated out of control and the school was put into lockdown. 

Now, following its first Ofsted inspection since the ‘critical incident', the school has been told to improve.

Ofsted acknowledged the 'determined actions' of staff to re-set standards at Fir Vale School

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Despite this, inspectors praised Rachel Smith, who joined the school as headteacher in November 2018, for her ‘determined actions’ which have had a ‘positive impact’ in a short space of time and found the school is ‘recovering well’ under new leadership. 

They said the new headteacher and staff have 'worked effectively’ to establish a ‘calm and orderly’ environment, achieved through high levels of supervision and exclusion, with leaders raising standards of behaviour and tightening school procedures.

However, they also noted that the school has not yet established good behaviour. 

And, while it was reported that ‘pupils feel safe’ and engage positively in their learning as a result of the ‘strong relationships’ that exist with many teachers, inspectors felt the school still has some work to do.

Mrs Smith said: “Fir Vale staff continue to work hard to make the school the best it can be. It’s a real team effort.

“Our students are amazing and we are all working together to make our school an exciting place to learn and achieve.”

Attendance was also found to be low, with too many pupils ‘persistently absent’ and the quality of teaching was said to be ‘inconsistent’ with some lessons not meeting the needs of the most and least able pupils.

But, inspectors noted that leaders know what to do to improve teaching and the curriculum, and are ‘acting quickly' to bring this about.

The governing body said they actively support the improvements enforced by the headteacher and feel positive about the school’s continued upward trajectory.

Usma Saeed, Chair of Governors, said: “Fir Vale is rebuilding and is on the way up. Governors have every confidence that the school is moving in the right direction and we are excited for the future.”

The school must now improve behaviour and punctuality, to reduce the need for exclusions and increase attendance to reduced the persistent absence of Slovakian Roma pupils by working ‘closely and effectively’ with their families.

The quality and consistency of teaching, learning and assessment must also improve, with subject leaders being a driving force for this change.