Head says school ‘devastated’ by inadequate Ofsted rating

Joel Wirth headteacher at Ecclesfield School
Joel Wirth headteacher at Ecclesfield School
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A popular, oversubscribed Sheffield secondary school has been rated inadequate and placed into special measures.

Ecclesfield School was ranked 16th out of the city’s 26 secondaries by the latest Progress 8 measures – which measures the amount of progress youngsters make between leaving primary school and finishing secondary school.

Joel Wirth headteacher at Ecclesfield School

Joel Wirth headteacher at Ecclesfield School

However, Ofsted inspectors said the effectiveness of Ecclesfield School, in Ecclesfield has ‘declined considerably’ in the last three years and that teaching and the achievements of pupils was ‘weak’.

Headteacher Joel Wirth said he was ‘deeply shocked’ at the damning Ofsted report and defended his school, but stressed that it would address the issues raised.

He raised concerns that the report could affect the community’s confidence in the school and deter some parents from sending their children there.

He said: “As a school, we were already aware of the issues identified by the inspection and well under way with addressing them.

Ecclesfield School.

Ecclesfield School.

“There will be no complacency as we strive to provide our students with the very best education possible.”

Mr Wirth said one of the school’s top priorities had always been to care for all its pupils, including those who would not hit national academic targets.

He said teachers had recently supported pupils facing difficult challenges including teenage pregnancies and family problems which led to teenagers not wanting to go to school at all.

He said he was proud of the ‘bespoke’ programme of support, including a full-time school counsellor and off-site school, which meant such pupils gained the best qualifications they could.

At the opposite end of the scale, five pupils in the last few years have gone on to study at Oxford or Cambridge.

He said some disadvantaged pupils at the school do not start at a particularly low level of achievement, compared with those at schools in other areas, and therefore on paper do not seem to make as much progress.

He felt that more consideration must be given for the challenges facing certain schools in Sheffield in terms of the progress pupils make.

“Some schools are run on spreadsheets, and if I wanted to do that then I could but I don’t.

“It is a lovely school that cares hugely about the kids it serves,” he said.