New headteacher vows to justify inspectors' faith

Lowest Performing School
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Wandle primary school lies in one of London's most up and coming areas. House prices have soared in the south-west London suburb of Earlsfield on the outskirts of fashionable Wandsworth as well-heeled professionals have moved in.

Wandle primary school lies in one of London's most up and coming areas. House prices have soared in the south-west London suburb of Earlsfield on the outskirts of fashionable Wandsworth as well-heeled professionals have moved in.

A glowing Ofsted inspection report praised staff for their teaching, the progress made by their pupils and the welcoming atmosphere. Yet the school is the lowest performer in England. Only 21 per cent of children reached the expected standard in English last year, while just one in 10 hit the target for maths and science.

Wandle does not attract the children of the newly arrived middle classes who stream off the main line from Earlsfield Station across the road. Instead its teachers have to deal with the full range of inner-city social and educational problems.

The school's catchment area covers the large Henry Prince estate and the Earlsfield gypsy encampment. The school's welcoming and cosmopolitan air also attracts many children from south London's refugee communities. Half of its 200 pupils have special needs, and there is a huge turnover. Very few stay the full seven years at the school and many have English as a second language.

Nearly half of the 28 children who took national tests in May had been at the school for less than two years. Six had been there less than a term.

The figures reveal a school typical of many inner-city primaries with intakes influenced by the areas of deprivation and affluence which sit cheek-by-jowl in many instances.

But it is a school improving against the odds which, says Ofsted, "is effective in making a significant difference to individual pupils". Inspectors found no unsatisfactory teaching and declared the majority of lessons to be good.

Paul Larkey, the headteacher, started in September, after moving from Sir James Barry primary in Wandsworth, which was declared a "beacon" by the Department for Education and tops the borough's table of the "value added" by teachers. Mr Larkey said: "We are at the bottom of the table now, but it will be a different picture next year."

Comments