Failing Sheffield school is on the up

Forge Valley Community School, Stannington.
Forge Valley Community School, Stannington.
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Sheffield’s newest secondary school is getting back on track – after it was found by inspectors to be failing its pupils nine months ago.

A follow-up visit has found Stannington’s Forge Valley Community School is making reasonable progress towards the removal of special measures, while the council’s action plan has been given a thumbs-up.

Since the inspection Tapton headteacher David Bowes has become executive head, with a new chair and vice-chair of governors appointed.

During the summer 19 teachers left, and in the autumn the previous headteacher Diane McKinlay resigned.

Forge Valley is set to become an academy from next month under Tapton’s wing.

Inspectors found there was still much to do, as achievement levels by pupils were still inadequate and they were not achieving high enough standards.

GCSE results for last summer were judged to be ‘extremely disappointing’ as expectations of improvements did not materialise.

And at A-level the students’ performances were inconsistent and too many students under performed.

But since September changes had been made and assessments of pupils suggested that more of them were on track to meet their targets next summer.

The improvement was due to determined and well-directed work by the senior staff which had led to improvements in teaching.

Pupil behaviour in lessons and around the school had improved but attendance levels of some groups of students remained a concern, the inspectors said.

Parents’ evenings had been held on the issue and there was now a new focus on tackling lateness and truancy – though the number of persistent absentees remained too high.

But Mr Bowes is praised for his pivotal role in providing essential strategic leadership, and his dynamic approach, commitment and determination.

The school was also receiving good support from the local authority.