Former Ofsted chief praises Sheffield schools organisation as 'standard bearer for partnerships'

The organisation supports schools across the city
The organisation supports schools across the city

A former chief of Ofsted has praised a school organisation for helping to improve the outcomes of Sheffield children.

Christine Gilbert said Learn Sheffield was a 'thriving' local area partnership and is doing 'terrific work' for the children and young people.

Learn Sheffield chief executive Stephen Betts

Learn Sheffield chief executive Stephen Betts

A peer review into the not-for-profit organisation - which is owned by Sheffield Council and all the city's schools - found that since its creation in 2015, overall outcomes in Sheffield have improved.

The percentage of schools judged as good or outstanding by Ofsted has increased by seven per cent and pupil outcomes have improved across the majority of national measures.

READ MORE: SATS results show a year of improvement for Sheffield schoolchildren

Ms Gilbert, who headed up the review team, said: "We were highly impressed by the terrific work that is happening in Sheffield.

Councillor Jayne Dunn

Councillor Jayne Dunn

"The approach of Learn Sheffield, particularly given the size and stature of the city, makes it a standard bearer for partnerships everywhere.

"The very high level of engagement from schools is testimony to the inclusive approach that has been developed.

"The city council, the education sector and everyone involved in Learn Sheffield should be very proud of what they have achieved to date and excited about the platform they have for the future."

Officials from the organisation and the council have welcomed the report and intent to use it to support the next stage of its development.

READ MORE: Sheffield school celebrates significant rise in attendance and punctuality

The partnership now faces a reduction in funding from the council, as its three-year commission comes to an end and is undertaking a review as it draws up its new strategy.

It aims to meet this through the introduction of a subscription offer and an increase in the services it offers to schools, according to the report.

Chief executive Stephen Betts said: "Learn Sheffield chief executive Stephen Betts said: "The way that we continue to work together as a city, on behalf of every child and young person in Sheffield, is both our greatest strength and the key to our future success.

"I think everyone involved in education in Sheffield can be proud of this report because the many successes are the truly the result of our collective efforts.

"It also offers clear guidance, which lines up with our own analysis, about what our priorities should be in the next phase of Learn Sheffield’s development.

"Learn Sheffield will work hard to address the things that we can do better and build on the platform that we have created.

READ MORE: Staff at Sheffield school back campaign for fairer funding

"This report recognises that we are developing something special by Sheffield and for Sheffield – and we simply must capitalise on the opportunity that we have created together to realise our ambitions for the children and young people of the city."

Chairman of the Learn Sheffield board, Mike Allen, added: "We are delighted by this report, which identifies the successes of Learn Sheffield very clearly and provides helpful and constructive input into the next stage of our development."

Councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for education and skills at Sheffield Council said the 'inclusive approach' plays an important part in ensuring city schoolchildren get the best education possible.

"Learn Sheffield provides the space for schools and the local authority to really work through the important issues and challenges that we face, and which affect the education of our children and young people," she said.

"Never has education been more important, and this inclusive approach plays a very important part in ensuring we can deliver the very best education for very child and young person in our city of Sheffield.”

Learn Sheffield will be hosting events early in the autumn term, where it will share its next steps and provide an opportunity for interested parties to contribute to its development.