School praised as ‘calm haven in very challenging circumstances’

Happy children at Skegby Junior Academy with the principal, Pauline Marples.
Happy children at Skegby Junior Academy with the principal, Pauline Marples.

A school in Sutton has been praised for “creating a calm haven where everyone feels valued”, despite “very challenging circumstances”.

Skegby Junior Academy has “a very high proportion of disadvantaged pupils”, according to its latest Ofsted report.

Previous attainment by pupils was in the lowest ten per cent nationally, while there had been significant changes since the last Ofsted inspection in 2015, with many new teachers taken on.

However, the Ash Grove school, which is run by the Greenwood Academies Trust, has retained its ‘Good’ rating and has been hailed for its positive culture towards learning.

The Ofsted report singled out for praise principal Pauline Marples, who had “set higher expectations for pupils’ behaviour and attitudes and improved the quality of teaching and learning” since joining in September 2017.

She had also successfully tackled a key area for improvement thanks to “much work to develop pupils’ love and enjoyment of reading”, including a busy, new school library.

The report noted that the trust provides Mrs Marples with “support and robust accountability”, while staff were “enthusiastic, keen to make improvements and proud to work at the school”.

Parents’ views were also positive, with one telling the Ofsted inspector: “They have turned the school around. The head is fantastic.”

The report also said that pupils “are extremely polite and friendly, conduct themselves well and are tremendously proud of their school”. The above-average number of fixed-term exclusions had also been reduced.

The only areas highlighted for improvement were pupils’ learning in maths and also the attainment and progress of disadvantaged children.

Mrs Marples said: “I am delighted the fantastic efforts of our wonderful pupils and staff have been recognised.

“We take great pride in providing pupils with an enriching and engaging learning experience.”

Wayne Norrie, boss of the trust, said: “The team have instilled in pupils an excitement for learning, and I am so pleased to see the hard work of staff, pupils and parents rewarded in this report.

“It is testament to what can be achieved through shared dedication and a passion for high-quality education.”