STAFF and pupils at a Wearside school are now firmly on the road to success after difficult times.
In September 2010, Usworth Grange Primary School was placed in special measures by Ofsted inspectors, but in just over a year, the changes have been dramatic.
During their recent revisit to the Sulgrave Village school, the inspectors said it was making good progress.
Headteacher Leigh Ford said the success has been down to a huge amount of hard work during the past 16 months, which has resulted in a total overhaul of the whole school.
She said: “I took over at the school in the September and two weeks later, the Ofsted inspectors came and placed the school in special measures.
“It wasn’t unexpected because the school had been the lowest performing for about three or four years and something had to change.”
During the year, massive changes have taken place, including a huge clear-out of books and materials, some more than 40 years out of date, and a total rebranding of the school with a new uniform and logo.
Mrs Ford said: “It has been a massive challenge and some very hard decisions had to be made, but at the end of the day what is best for the children is at the heart of everything we do.
“We now have a fantastic staffing team and the school is in a great position. It is like a completely new school.”
The headteacher said a lot of money had been ploughed into buying new rescources and learning materials for the children.
In a report after Ofsted’s recent monitoring visit, inspectors said: “The proportion of pupils reaching the expected level was more than double that in previous test results, while the proportion making the expected progress from Year 2 to Year 6 exceeded the national average.
“This steep rise in pupils’ attainment and progress is the result of rapidly improving assessment systems.
“Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities in mainstream classes are making similar progress to their peers because of improvements to teachers’ planning and the effective deployment of well-trained support staff.”
Inspectors also commented on the improvement in pupil behaviour, which is having a positive impact on learning.
They added: “Pupils say they feel safe in school.
“They know that bullying is not tolerated and they trust adults to listen to and resolve any problems.”