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!