IT is an inspiring success story.
Staff and pupils at Townhill Junior School are celebrating an incredible turnaround in fortunes after it was graded “good” by Ofsted just 12 months after being put into special measures.
The dramatic reversal, which has also seen a huge improvement in test results, is the fastest ever by a Southampton school deemed failing by inspectors.
Just a year ago, the Benhams Road school was criticised for not giving youngsters “an acceptable standard of education”.
But now inspectors say all the teaching they saw was good or outstanding, and praised the “passion and vision” of head teacher Matt Sambrook for completely changing standards and attitudes at the school.
In a report to be published later this week, inspector Chris Nye said: “The recent history of this school is an inspiring success story.
“Leaders at all levels, including governors and in particular the head teacher, have rapidly changed this school from one that is failing its pupils into one that is good, with the capacity to improve even more.
“The school has rapidly and securely reversed a history of underachievement. Since September 2011, pupils have made progress that is similar to or better than expected in reading, writing and mathematics in all year groups. This is because the quality of teaching has improved dramatically.
“Pupils who were interviewed by inspectors said that they enjoyed their lessons and felt that this was because the teaching motivated them and helped them to learn well. This positive attitude is reflected in lessons and behaviour is good.”
Delighted Mr Sambrook, who arrived at Townhill Junior in June 2011, said the turnaround, which has seen the school taken out of special measures six months sooner than he had initially hoped, had come as a result of a “root and branch” review of practices.
He said teachers who were at the school when it was deemed inadequate are now being held up by council officials as examples to help others around the city improve practices.
He said: “The school is a different place now.
“The feeling around the school is very positive and it’s motivation to improve further.
Everyone in the school wants to get better.”
Mr Sambrook said Townhill Junior, which has 42 per cent of its pupils receiving free school meals, is now performing at least in line with national averages in SATs tests despite the more deprived backgrounds of many youngsters.
He said: “We’ve put a lot of time and commitment into the families and children because it’s about closing that gap.
“That’s why we’re here – to improve life outcomes for children."