OFSTED inspectors say it is "unlikely" that a primary school will come out of special measures in the expected timescale due to a "slow rate of improvement."

Southmere Primary Academy was put in special measures in February 2017 after being judged inadequate following an Ofsted inspection the previous November.

Late last year inspectors wrote to the school to say not enough work was being done to improve.

Ofsted recently visited again to see what improvements had been made, and although they pointed out there have been some positive changes, the school is not expected to come out of special measures in the usual timescale - 18 months to two years.

A new head was appointed at the school in January.

The school is run by the Northern Education Trust, and Ofsted is critical of how the trust initially responded to the school being put in special measures.

Another NET school, Ryecroft Academy, was placed in special measures around the same time as Southmere.

A letter from Ofsted inspector Catherine Precious to new head of Southmere Susan Dawson, said: "I am of the opinion that at this time leaders and managers are not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.

"Historically, NET has offered little support to the school leadership team, something it intends to increase quickly. The trust has, however, brokered more intensive external support. This support has been in place since January. It is beginning to have a positive impact on the quality of leadership, teaching and learning and pupils’ outcomes. The rate of improvement since the inspection in November 2016 indicates that it is unlikely that the school is on course to have the special measures judgements removed within the expected timescale of 18 to 24 months.

"Governors and representatives of the trust acknowledge that the support the school has received since November 2016 should have been more rapid, intense and demanding. This lack of support has significantly slowed the rate of improvement in teaching and learning."

However, the letter does say the school's action plan is "fit for purpose" and adds: "Leaders have a clear idea of their roles and responsibilities and the part they need to play in school improvement.

"However, either through absence or being new to role, too many leaders have not been able to play an active and effective part in school improvement."

A spokesman for the trust said: "While there are still areas for improvement which we are working hard to address, we are pleased to note that there are also several very encouraging points within the Ofsted monitoring inspection letter.

"The new principal we appointed in January, Susan Dawson, has brought stability and direction to the leadership team.

"This was acknowledged by the inspector who said that she was’ highly valued by her staff’ which has resulted in leaders having a clearer idea of their roles and responsibilities.

"Additionally, as part of the Northern Alliance of Trusts, Northern Education Trust has been able to broker support from Delta Academies Trust as well as a cluster of local primary schools. This collaboration is working well, leading to the provision of additional staff resources including an executive headteacher and the introduction of new reading, writing and assessment strategies together with staff coaching. These changes are already resulting in improvements to pupil outcomes.

"We have every confidence that this collaborative approach will continue to address the pace of improvement. We are committed to ensuring that each child in our care can access the highest standard of education and reap the benefit of this for the rest of their lives."