We chose the local inner-city state primary, a decision that's just paid us back in spades!

Rhona Dobbs's picture
 3
I know eyebrows were raised and some concerns expressed amongst family and friends when we decided to send our kids to the local inner-city school with the bad reputation and where over 90% of kids have English as an additional language. Well that was eight years ago and my goodness what a turn-around! The Nether Edge Primary School did itself proud yesterday, celebrating a brilliant set of SATS results and a letter from the Department for Education saying it is one of the top 250 schools in the country for pupil progress.

But SATS and league tables aren't the whole story. Ten years ago the school was under threat. Sheffield City Council, planned to close the school and merge with another nearby. A shabby building, low expectations and poor attainment had resulted in parents voting with their feet and pupil numbers were dwindling. However a successful campaign saw the merger proposals shelved and a new headteacher was appointed shortly afterwards.

The real story is the decade long journey from being a school that was failing its pupils to one that is at the heart of the community it serves. The school has been refurbished, the number of classes has doubled and the mothballed classrooms are all back in use. It is a bright and welcoming environment full of happy, lively children and staff. But it took time. It wasn't a quick re-branding exercise but a long process of winning back the confidence and support of the parents and the wider community.

We chose the local school because we wanted our kids to be part of the local community, to walk to school and play outside with their friends - just like we did when we were kids. My kids go to a fantastic school and our decision to choose the local school has paid off in spades!
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FJ Murphy's picture
Sun, 09/02/2014 - 17:27

I am glad that the school is thriving, as shown by the SATs. ;) Did you know that it was on the way up when you put your children there or were you determined to use the local school regardless of its quality?


John Mountford's picture
Sun, 09/02/2014 - 23:30

You make the point very well, the road to improvement is a long one. I believe in state education. Stories like this are the reason I have remained involved in education as a school governor over a decade after retiring from a large junior school in Woolwich, SE London. I had never worked with a more dedicated body of people in such challenging circumstances. It pains me to read on a daily basis of the nonsense often peddled as fact about the state of our schools. However, as the many excellent, well researched contributions to this website confirm, the system is under greater threat from the meddling of some politicians and neglect of others than it is from anything else.

As the recent report from Pearson UK confirms, the fate of our schools and thus of the educational opportunities of our young people are linked in a wholly inappropriate way to the fate of political parties at the ballot box. As the authors of this report explain, the existing system of education governance leads to waste and lost opportunities. What the authors do not admit to is the fact that unless ordinary people make an effort to have their voices heard, we are in danger of seeing our state schools fall into the hands of companies expecting to turn them into profit-making businesses. Problems with this system of corporate ownership of schools are already evident in the US, where this has been happening for some time, and also in Sweden. A similar fate awaits our schools unless we take action now.

http://uk.pearson.com/home/news/2014/january/business-and-highereducatio...

At http://www.ordinaryvoices.org.uk/ I have established a campaign to get the governance of education changed. It's success will depend on the support of parents, carers and others taking time to consider the implications of doing nothing to challenge the status quo and take education our of party politics.

Rhona Dobbs's picture
Wed, 19/02/2014 - 00:43

We wanted to use the local school and it seemed ok and less than 5 mins walk away. Ofsted good, staff seemed nice, lovely children. I knew our kids would be fine. We weren't aware of quite how bad a reputation it had at first.

Our eldest was due to start nursery just after we moved here and we got her a place in the school's nursery. She made friends right away and loved it. I went regularly to the school's toddler group with the younger one, met other local mums and started to make friends myself. But a year or so later, when it came to choosing a primary school, many of my friends (BME and white) were choosing schools farther away with better reputations and more of a mix of ethnicities.

We were highly unusual - a professional couple, one white, choosing the local school. The previous head had been known to discourage parents like us from sending their kids to the school! No wonder it had a bad reputation. I guess if he hadn't retired just before we arrived then maybe we'd have been persuaded to go elsewhere too.

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