Sidlesham primary school’s delight at Ofsted turnaround

Head teacher Alison Bardsley with Sidlesham pupils

Head teacher Alison Bardsley with Sidlesham pupils

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FROM ‘requires improvement’ to nearly outstanding in just two years, a primary school has spoken of its delight at a remarkable turnaround.

Sidlesham Primary School received ‘outstanding’ in three out of five Ofsted categories in a visit last month and an overall ‘good’ rating from inspectors.

Head teacher Alison Bardsley spoke of her delight at the result, which has seen nearly a complete teaching staff overhaul since June, 2013.

“We’ve got all new teachers bar one and lots of new support staff,” she said. “Everyone has worked so hard and built up the new team.”

She believes this shows the school getting back on track, after it saw a fall in intake after the poor Ofsted.

A lot of this has also been put down to the opening of the nearby Chichester Free School, in Runcton.

“Since the ‘requires improvement’, numbers have gone down and particularly since the new free school opened we’ve lost a quite a lot of children to there,” she said.

“That’s a direct result, I think, of the requires improvement, so we’re hoping that we can get this message out that parents look at us and want their children to come here.”

With the free school opening a Year 4 group next year, Mrs Bardsley said five children from Sidlesham’s Year 3 group had already signed up and would be leaving the school.

Ofsted graded Sidlesham’s leadership, pupil behaviour and early years provision as ‘outstanding’ in May, with ‘good’ for quality of teaching and achievement of pupils.

“Leadership and management are outstanding,” said inspectors. “Since the previous inspection, the new head teacher has resolutely driven forward the school’s successful bid to improve.”

The overhaul of staff also came in for praise.

“An almost completely new staff team since the previous inspection has resulted in consistently good teaching,” they said. “Standards have risen rapidly, especially in the last year. They are now above average in reading, writing and mathematics.”

Mrs Bardlsey added: “We’ve got a complete mix now of experienced teachers and some who were newly-qualified teachers two years ago.

“That’s a really good mix because the experience can be shared with new teachers but the new teachers bring in lots of fresh ideas.”

Ofsted put the rapid improvement in teaching achievement down to the ‘strong partnership and considerable experience of the head teacher and deputy head teacher’.

“Governors challenge and support all leaders very well, ensuring that the determined effort to secure better standards of teaching and achievement has been very successful,” the Ofsted report added.

It also said the rise in standards meant by the end of Year 6 pupils were well prepared for secondary school in maths and English.