Inspectors impressed by progress at Sheffield’s Parkwood Academy

Parkwood Academy students celebrate at the school's recent awards evening.
Parkwood Academy students celebrate at the school's recent awards evening.
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One of the first wave of Sheffield academies is on the up after impressing inspectors with its rate of improvement.

Parkwood Academy at Shirecliffe has been rated ‘good’ after an Ofsted team found its effectiveness had grown significantly since its last visit.

Parkwood Academy headteacher Mike Westerdale.

Parkwood Academy headteacher Mike Westerdale.

Pupils were found to be receiving a good quality of education thanks to the combined efforts of effective management, good governors and a committed and capable staff.

From low starting points most youngsters were making fast, effective and sustained progress in a range of subjects.

By the age of 16 their overall achievement was at least good, and for some students it was exceptional.

As a result, when overall student progress was measured, Parkwood was in the top five per cent of schools nationally - something which inspectors said was a real feather in its cap.

Achievement levels, the quality of teaching and behaviour had all improved from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘good’ over the last 20 months.

Elements of the school’s performance, such as its senior leadership directed by executive head Mike Westerdale, were now outstanding.

And the academy’s latest data indicated that a rising trend in the students’ attainments and achievements over the past three years was set to continue, the inspectors found.

Key areas for improvement highlighted during the previous inspection had been effectively tackled.

As a result there had been major advances in the pupils’ proficiency in maths, and better provision for youngsters new to the English language.

Students with special needs and from disadvantaged backgrounds and ethnic minorities were making progress that was better than their peers in other schools across the country.

But inspectors felt the school, which was converted to academy status in September 2009, still has some work to do.

Inconsistencies were found to remain in the effectiveness of some subjects, and in the rates of progress of some groups of students.

Problem areas in the academy’s curriculum included the subjects of geography, drama and technology.

Pupils also still needed to improve their English and maths skills, while more progress was possible from the most able students.

The school has also been challenged to narrow the gap in attainment made by disadvantaged students compared with other youngsters.