Fresh start for Foremost School

NADV 1209036AM1 Foremost School. (1209036AM1)
NADV 1209036AM1 Foremost School. (1209036AM1)

A troubled Nidderdale School is set for a fresh start with a new head teacher and a new name.

Foremost School at Forest Moor near Darley has been plagued with difficulties since it opened in 2012 at a cost of £11million.

Now the school has a new name, Forest Moor School, a new head teacher and it preparing for a new intake of children next month.

New head teacher Simon Ashby, who was the local authority’s lead education adviser to the school for 18 months, took up his post in September. The new name, he says, is a “small but important statement” and represents a new style and structure for the school.

“We believe this is a necessary way forward for the school,” said Simon Ashby. “Forest Moor will play an important role in supporting some of our more challenging and vulnerable children to get back on the right track. We are very much looking forward to our first intake of children in November and a positive future.”

Two head teachers, several members of staff and half a dozen governors quit the school during the two years it was run as a boarding school for boys with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. Crisis talks were called by unions concerned about safety at the school after it emerged staff were assaulted by pupils 67 times.

Forest Moor has now been turned from into a day school for girls as well as boys and from November will take in younger pupils and introduce a new curriculum and a new uniform.

North Yorkshire County Council said it is committed to maintaining Forest Moor School and believes it has an important role to play in a new behaviour strategy.

The local authority explored a number of options after the school was placed in special measures by Ofsted last year, including outsourcing the school to an independent provider, however it failed to attract any suitable bids.

The council’s intention is now for each and every pupil admitted to Forest Moor will be for a planned return to mainstream education.

County Coun Arthur Barker, North Yorkshire’s Executive member for Schools said: “Our first priority, working with the new head teacher and governors, is to develop Forest Moor into a good school where we can guarantee that young people are well educated and prepared for life. The school has impressive facilities and is well placed to become the hub of behavioural, emotional and social difficulties education provision in the west of the county.”