A Bradford primary school where every pupil is from an ethnic minority background, and the majority only speak English as a second language, is improving by leaps and bounds, according to Government inspectors.
St Philip’s CE Primary School in Girlington had been given the lowest possible “inadequate” rating following an Ofsted inspection in January, 2013, which cited poor teaching, pupils not having pride in their work and low expectations.
But following a surprise inspection earlier this month, the school has been moved up a grade.
Although the inspectors say it still requires improvement, head Michelle Hargreaves believes her staff and pupils have helped the school turn things around in a short period.
In the latest report, released yesterday, both leadership and pupil behaviour and safety were described as “good”.
The report says that there are many aspects the school could improve on, but praises it in several other areas.
Mrs Hargreaves, who started at the school last Easter, is praised for putting together a “strong team that has improved teaching and pupil’s achievement”.
It continues: “Pupils progress is now accelerating rapidly. They show respect and courtesy towards each other and staff and feel safe and happy at school. The vibrant learning environment excites and captures children’s imaginations.
“Since 2013 pupils standards in reading and mathematics have been improving faster than those seen nationally.
“Pupils are proud to belong to the school.”
Mrs Hargreaves, who has 13 years of teaching experience, said: “What has changed is we now have a real focus – there is a lot more emphasis on team work.
“Everyone has been massively involved in improving things, teachers, pupils parents and governors. Since the last report the school feels a lot more like a learning environment. Teachers are taking more calculated risks in the way they plan lessons. It is about letting staff and pupils take ownership of learning and making it exciting.
“The majority of pupils that start here have English as a secondary language, many speak Urdu as their first language. What we’ve done is engage parents as well as pupils.”
Ways to engage children with poor English skills include making learning more exciting – the school has its own “time machine” and set up “St Philip’s Detective Agency” as a way to teach children problem solving skills.
The school runs after school classes for parents teaching English, maths and computer skills to improve their own skills as well as allowing them to help their children.
Mrs Hargreaves added: “We always invite parents to regular discussions over what we are teaching and getting the teacher, child and parent together is really beneficial.
“The next steps are building on what we have managed to do in such a short space of time.”
The school is run by the Diocese of Bradford, and Archdeacon David Lee said: “We are delighted with Michelle, the governors and the staff in leading this improved trajectory.
“I think they have accomplished an enormous amount in a short space of time.”