Sheffield teaching unit for challenging pupils is improving

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A centre for some of
Sheffield’s most challeng-ing pupils is progressing in its bid to be removed from special measures.

Sheffield Inclusion Centre, Spring Lane, Arbourthorne, was judged to be inadequate following a visit by Ofsted inspectors in March 2013.

Since then, its progress has been closely monitored, with the latest check-up the fifth of its kind.

The centre, which has both primary and secondary departments, takes youngsters who, for a variety of reasons, have moved out of normal schools, including excluded pupils and teenage mothers.

Inspectors from the government education watchdog found there had been high numbers of new admissions, while staff were reporting resistance from some schools to accept pupils deemed suitable for moving back into mainstream education.

However, they found more pupils than before were re-engaging with their learning and were therefore making more effective progress.

Record numbers of students had gained accreditation for their programmes of study in 2014, but not one had gained an A*-C grade at GCSE.

In the primary department, the unit’s data reported most groups were making exceptional progress – in some cases pupils were said to have made two years’ progress in just one term.

However, inspectors said the claims were hard to reconcile with the quality of teaching seen and the work in pupils’ books.

In their report, inspectors said teaching quality was found to be improving, but was still too variable and was hampered by a regular turnover of staff.

Attendance rates had risen and the number of major incidents and exclusions had fallen – but the report says that in absolute terms the frequency of problems was still too high, as was truancy.

Since the start of the last autumn term, inspectors said restraint of pupils had to be used too often, both in the primary and secondary sections.

And fewer exclusions meant more low-level incidents as higher numbers of potentially volatile pupils were together in class.