Failing Sheffield school is handed warning

In charge: Russell Heritage.
In charge: Russell Heritage.

A TROUBLED Sheffield school risks losing its sponsor unless drastic improvements are made, the Government has warned.

The Department for Education has written to Sheffield Springs Academy setting out a number of areas which require changes as a matter of urgency.

Watchdogs are keeping a close eye on the school, part of the United Learning Trust, to ensure it is taking the necessary action.

In November, newly-appointed headteacher Russell Heritage promised to turn the Arbourthorne school round when it was placed in ‘special measures’ after a damning report from education watchdog Ofsted.

Disruptive behaviour, low lattendance, attainment and exam results were all highlighted as causes for concern.

However, the academy has been warned to step up its efforts after being earmarked for inspections as part of a crackdown from Oftsed boss Sir Michael Wilshaw.

If inspectors do not notice an improvement, the trust stands to be stripped of control of the academy in Hurlfield Road.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “The majority of sponsored academies are thriving under great leadership. Their GCSE results are improving at five times the rate of other state-funded schools.

“Sponsored academies took over schools consistently under-performing, which can take time to reverse, but results in a minority of sponsored academies remain stubbornly low.

“We will not tolerate long-term under-performance in any school.

“If these academies do not make the progress we expect, we will take further action.

“This may result in a change to the sponsorship arrangements.”

Mr Heritage was unavailable for comment, but a trust spokesman said: “There have been mistakes in the past and, despite improvement, there has been historic underachievement in the academy which culminated in this pre-warning notice.

“However, the new leadership has been tackling these issues and we are confident that significant improvement is under way.”