Firs Hill falls back into special measures

Story:Amy Palmer

After its second OFSTED inspection in two years, Firs Hill Primary School has been classified as ‘inadequate’ and special measures will be put in place to take action on the problem areas, especially pupil safety, leadership, and bullying.

Previous inspections

In 2002 the school was put into special measures and came under the leadership of Dina Martin. She was awarded an OBE in 2012 for her work there.

The 2013 OFSTED inspection found improvements were needed at Firs Hill. The major concern was the children’s writing ability but positives in the behaviour and leadership were also identified. At the time Mrs Martin explained that she was not disappointed in the result as the school was facing challenges and ninety one per cent of parents surveyed said they ‘would recommend the school to another parent.’

When Dina left, the school could not find a replacement Headteacher. Instead, the school put in place a part-time school leader, Fiona Rigby, headteacher of St Catherine’s School, to oversee Firs Hill as well.

OFSTED results

In 2015, an OFSTED inspection took place to monitor the school’s progress. The school was rated in five areas:

• Effectiveness of leadership and management – Inadequate

• Quality of teaching, learning and assessment – Requires improvement

• Personal development, behaviour and welfare – Inadequate

• Outcomes for pupils – Requires improvement

• Early years provision – Good

While children in nursery and reception are enjoying ‘Good’ education, the inspectors were worried about the rest of the school being without its own headteacher since Mrs Martin left. The temporary part-time ‘executive’ head, Fiona Rigby, has made some improvements but the school needs more help.

Most worryingly the inspectors found ‘Personal development, behaviour and welfare’ to be lacking, commenting “Too many pupils do not feel safe, and are not safe.” Bullying, racism and homophobic name calling were found among much bad behaviour both in class and in the playground.

A new executive head, Becky Webb from Tinsley Meadows Primary School, has now taken charge.

One parent of three Firs Hill pupils said,

“Now there is a real effort to put into place the support that staff and children need. This is a challenging school and it’s not surprising that leadership got a bad rating as there wasn’t a fulltime Headteacher. My children are very happy here and therefore so am I.”

If parents have concerns, they should contact the school and speak to Senior Leadership.

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