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Longest failing primary at risk

A PRIMARY SCHOOL that has been in special measures longer than any others which still have the status is waiting to learn if it will be closed.

Usher Street Primary in Bradford went into special measures in November 2005, and was threatened with closure at the end of last year. It was reprieved in March, only for its future to be thrown into doubt again at the end of last term.

Ofsted inspectors, who visited then, found that although academic standards and the quality of teaching and leadership were all satisfactory, overall progress was still inadequate. They said the underachievement of boys had been tackled and behaviour was improving, but that high-achieving children needed to be better catered for.

Education Bradford, part of a partnership that provides the city's education services, is believed to be considering a range of options, including amalgamating it with another school.

Usher Street is unusual for Bradford because it caters for children from a range of backgrounds.

For the past year, the school has been run by another, much bigger Bradford primary, Green Lane. The acting head, Jane Townend, has been seconded from Green Lane.

Kevin Holland, head of Green Lane and executive head of Usher Street, said five teachers have been moved across to Usher Street, teaching children from Years 1 to 5.

"It's taken a lot of commitment from staff at Green Lane to improve things at Usher Street," he said. "We thought it would be a challenge and it has been. Green Lane is large and we aren't used to working with other organisations."

He said it was only Green Lane's size it has 640 children that enabled it to give Usher Street's 140 pupils so much support.

As well as the secondments, teachers at Green Lane had been given additional duties, for example organising cover at Usher Street and helping design the curriculum.

Mr Holland added that the experience of looking after Usher Street had been good for the bigger school. Methods developed there for tracking pupils' progress were now in use at Green Lane.

"Usher Street is a very different place now," he said. "But there are still things we need to improve."

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