Special measures for ‘inadequate’ Foremost School

Foremost School near Darley. (1209036AM1)
Foremost School near Darley. (1209036AM1)

A school in Nidderdale for boys with behavioural problems has been placed in special measures by Ofsted inspectors.

The school inspectors have delivered a damning verdict on Foremost School, near Menwith Hill, in a report published on May 2.

It has been judged “inadequate” in all five aspects the inspectors looked at, and the school is to be placed in “special measures” to bring it up to standard.

Foremost caters for boys with behavioural, social, and emotional difficulties, and opened only a year ago in March 2012 to replace two other schools.

But Foremost has been marred with difficulties, and the inspectors’ report shows major concerns about how well the move has gone. It says:

“Leaders, managers and governors have failed to get the school established. They do not demonstrate the capacity to bring about necessary improvements in teaching and behaviour quickly enough or without considerable support.”

Long term plans are for the school the accommodate 60 students, including 40 residents. It is currently funded and staffed for 40 but has 26 on the roll, including 11 residents, the report shows.

It also shows problems with high staff turnover - ten staff including the headteacher left in the first term, as did five governors including the chairman of the governing body.

In their conclusions the inspectors said Foremost is inadequate in achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils, leadership and management, and in the overall effectiveness of the residential experience.

However, the inspectors reserved praise for “a small core of dedicated staff” determined to make the school better.

Now the education authority North Yorkshire County Council has set out its drastic plans to save the school.

A statement said: “the county council has been aware from the earliest stage that Foremost has had a very difficult year.”

The council’s Director for Children and Young People’s Services Pete Dwyer said: “Our immediate and urgent task is to ensure that pupils at Foremost get the very best education they rightly deserve.”

The school has already seen some changes, including the arrival of new headteacher Andrew Dawson who will get “intensive” support from the authority, and a number of new governors experienced with schools in difficult circumstances.

Mr Dwyer added: “The aim all along for this school has been to provide a rigorous and innovative curriculum with a range of opportunities to meet the individual needs of there vulnerable young people.

“We are in talks with governors and the Department for Education about the best way forward for the future. But we are also taking immediate action to give intensive support to Andrew Dawson, Foremost’s new and experienced headteacher, and to the core of dedicated staff in the school so they quickly attain the very high standards of teaching and learning we expect for all of our children and young people.

“Foremost provides state-of-the-art facilities in terms of teaching areas, sporting and other facilities and residential accommodation. We must now make sure that standards of education match these facilities and are the best they can be.

“We are confident that the intensive support package now in place will bring about the rapid improvement that is required.”