Headteacher at Sheffield's most oversubscribed primary school 'really surprised' by popularity

The headteacher of Sheffield’s most oversubscribed primary school says she was ‘really surpised’ it proved so popular.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 1:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 3:35 pm

Anns Grove Primary School in Heeley had to turn away 40 children whose parents applied, which is nearly as many as the 45 it had places for in the upcoming 2021/22 academic year.

It was one of just three infant and primary schools across the city which were oversubscribed by more than 30 places, according to new figures published by Sheffield Council.

Sam Fearnehough, headteacher at Anns Grove Primary School in Heeley, Sheffield

Headteacher Sam Fearnehough said: “I know we’re a popular school but I was really surprised to learn we were the most oversubscribed.

"When I saw the figures I thought there might have been a boom in the birth rate but when I spoke to the admissions team they said it’s down to parental preference.

“It’s an amazing accolade that so many parents are choosing to send their children here, and it gives us a lot of confidence in what we’re doing, but it makes me sad that we can’t accommodate everyone who wants a place.”

Asked why she thinks the school has proved so popular, Ms Fearnehough said she believed it was a combination of results which were ‘consistently above the national average across the school’; its ‘great grounds’, which were recently re-landscaped, include a cross country course and will soon feature a bee hive; and its ‘family oriented’ approach.

"We know our families really well, we support them as much as possible and we keep in touch after children move on to secondary school,” she added.

"Our online learning was very good during lockdown, though we’re glad to be back, and our staff work really hard to make sure we have a curriculum that suits all our children.”

Despite its popularity, Ms Fearnehough said she thought expansion was unlikely as there was still space at other schools and despite having fairly large grounds the relatively modern building was too small to accommodate many more pupils.

Sheffield Council said that 92.6 per cent of applicants were offered their first-choice school.

Parents who are unhappy with the school their children have been allocated have until May 14 to lodge an appeal with the council.

John Bigley, admissions and access manager at Sheffield Council, said "After the disruption of the last 12 months we have all come to appreciate how important our children’s education is and how valued our schools are.

"We always do our very best to accommodate all preferred school places, and we're really pleased that we've been able to offer over 98% of children a place at one of their preferred schools, giving them the best opportunity to develop and excel.

"For the small number of children who didn’t get a offered a place at one of their preferred schools, they have been allocated an alternative school that has places available nearest to their home.

“Our admissions team are on hand to help support parents and carers with any queries they may have. The team can be contacted on 0114 273 5766 or at [email protected]"