Hard graft but it paid off for Doncaster superschool

Bentley High Street Primary School are celebrating achieving an outstanding Ofsted report. Picture: Andrew Roe
Bentley High Street Primary School are celebrating achieving an outstanding Ofsted report. Picture: Andrew Roe

Twelve years ago Bentley High Street Primary School was in trouble. Ofsted inspectors plunged it in to special measures and morale among staff was rock bottom.

But the situation could not be more changed. Under headteacher Janis James and team, the school not only received an outstanding grade from the education watchdogs for its last two inspections, but is a beacon school that demonstrates good practice. It is the only teaching school in Doncaster.

There are no magic solutions to this success, says Janis, who took up the role of headteacher in 2006.

“This is an outstanding school through the hard work, grit and determination of the people here, and teamwork,” she insisted. “There’s no secret. The staff put everything in to their work because they love what they do. The result is happy kids who learn.”

Morale now is very high. “You don’t get an outstanding grade twice if standards slip,” added Janis, 53. “You have to keep raising the bar. We have very good relations with teaching unions here too. People follow what they believe in. We are investors in people and we keep on learning as we train.”

There has been massive growth, said the head, who has been in education for 28 years, but prior to that had a background in marketing.

There are now 90 plus staff in her “fantastic” team, tending to the needs of 455 pupils - a big increase in numbers in a relatively short time.

There is a primary learning centre within the school that has 11 dedicated staff within a behavioural support team.

“We have annual residential trips for all pupils from eight years upwards, and 16 out-of-hours school clubs. Pupils enjoy them so we keep them going,” said Janis.

Extended school adds care and supervision from 7.30 to 9am and 3.30 to 6pm. Childcare continues through holidays with playschemes in conjunction with other schools.

Yet more provision is on the way within a conversion from the old caretaker’s home for two to three year olds. The facility - Number One High Street - has been in the planning for a year.

The main frustration schools face is with contant changes in government legislation, added Janis. “It’s difficult to keep up with constant changes to policy.” She used the example of handwriting - now a prominent issue with Ofsted. For some time previously it was given less importance.

A Doncaster Council spokesperson said: “Bentley High Street is a fantastic school.”

With a ‘rich and exciting’ curriculum - strong words from Ofsted - the school was found to be an ‘outstanding environment for learning’.