Recovery plan for Sheffield school is under fire

New Forge Valley School on Wood Lane Stannington   Head Teacher Diane McKinlay
New Forge Valley School on Wood Lane Stannington Head Teacher Diane McKinlay

Plans to turn around Sheffield’s newest secondary school have been branded ‘not fit for purpose’ by inspectors.

Forge Valley Community School at Stannington, which opened two years ago after a merger between Wisewood and Myers Grove secondaries, was placed in special measures after its first check-up by Ofsted in May.

Inspectors returned to the school last month to monitor progress – and were unhappy with what they found.

Now Forge Valley is set to become an academy under the sponsorship and guidance of Tapton School, which already has a similar partnership with Chaucer School in Parson Cross.

The conversion will be completed in February.

Other changes this summer will mean 18 teachers leaving Forge Valley.

All the posts have been filled, but it has been barred from recruiting newly-qualified staff.

The inspection team said the Wood Lane school’s action plan was not fit for purpose and needed strengthening in a number of areas.

They said more needed to be done to define a necessary professional training programme for teachers, senior staff and governors, while the full governing body needed to be involved in monitoring improvement work.

Pupils’ progress and attainment needed to be checked at regular intervals in all subjects, not just English and maths, and with better support for boys.

Diane McKinlay, Forge Valley headteacher, believes it is a new school which is still developing and improving.

But she said she was confident that this year’s GCSE results – released tomorrow – will show a significant improvement on those of 2012, when 45 per cent of Forge Valley students achieved five good passes.

David Bowes, Tapton headteacher, who will work closely with Forge Valley for the next few months, said there was a huge challenge for everyone to face.

He said: “When a school is in special measures it is always difficult, with various processes needing to be put into place.

“We know there will be another full inspection sometime during this coming autumn term and we will have to show that significant improvement is being made, which is something we will all be focused on.

“Students at Forge Valley have simply not been making the progress they should have, while leadership at all levels has not been strong enough.

“The fact that two separate school communities came together may have played a part.

“Clearly too, there will be a vital role for the governors in driving the school forward.”

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