WHAT a difference a year makes.
Staff and pupils at a Southampton school are celebrating being graded “good” by Ofsted inspectors, less than four terms after being placed in special measures because standards were so low.
Sinclair Primary School is now one of only a handful of schools in the country ever to jump straight from being deemed inadequate to getting the second-highest overall grade, earning special praise from England’s chief inspector.
Ofsted head Christine Gilbert said: “It is both a rare and particular impressive achievement.”
Inspectors who last year labelled the Lordshill school as providing an unacceptably low standard of education now describe its “substantial and rapid improvement” with words like “unrecognisable”, “dramatic” and “amazing”.
Pupils last year achieved record-best results in their SATs tests, and the school is now in the top five per cent nationally for the progress made by children during their time at school.
The incredible transformation has been overseen by new head teacher Gerida Montague-Munson, who was brought in by the city council to raise standards and create a partnership with her existing school, Holy Family Catholic Primary in Millbrook.
Inspector Margaret Dickinson said Mrs Montague-Munson’s “relentless drive and determination” had been central to Sinclair’s turnaround.
She wrote: “She has instilled a sense of ambition and has strived for high standards.
“Her leadership has been incisive in its focus and very effective.”
Teaching, the curriculum and the school’s caring and supportive environment were all praised in the report, while the on-site nursery school was graded as “outstanding”.
Mrs Montague-Munson said the partnership with Holy Family, which itself has also been transformed during her four years in charge, has been vital to Sinclair’s improved fortunes.
She said: “We’re all pulling together as a family. The teamwork has been phenomenal. The pupils and staff have been very motivated.
“My focus has been on relentless change, and keeping children at the centre of what we do, because we are all here because of the children. We have to do the best for them.
“We analyse every single group of children to make sure they are progressing at the right level.”
Southampton’s education boss, Councillor Paul Holmes said he was delighted at Sinclair’s improvement.
He said: “To turn the situation around so quickly is truly an amazing achievement and we should consider ourselves fortunate that we have such inspirational leaders in our schools to drive up standards and deliver the best possible education for the city’s pupils.”