Governors resign after Northumberland school fails to escape special measure

Governors at Prudhoe Community High School resigned en masse after it failed to emerge from special measures

.Prudhoe Community High School, Prudhoe, Northumberland
Prudhoe Community High School, Prudhoe, Northumberland

A school which was deemed to be failing has seen its governing body resign en mass after it was found not to have made sufficient improvement.

Prudhoe Community School in Northumberland was placed in special measures by Ofsted last year after inspectors criticised the school’s leadership and management as inadequate.

A subsequent visit by the watchdog last month failed to result in the school being removed from the special measures category.

The Journal has been told that the school’s governing body opted to resign as a result, with it now having been replaced by an interim executive board.

The high school was one of 17 in Northumberland visited by inspectors in October amid concerns over standards of education in Northumberland. Inspectors found the school’s leadership and management to be inadequate.

This was primarily because the site’s arrangements for safeguarding students gave “serious cause for concern” and insufficient action had been taken to remedy weaknesses following a serious incident.

Senior leaders and governors had not ensured students’ safety when accessing the internet, Ofsted found, as the systems to control and monitor use were ineffective.

Governors said in January that they wanted to be allowed to bring the school out of special measures.

In February The Journal reported that long term headteacher Dr Iain Shaw had left his post by “mutual agreement” after seven years.

Deputy headteacher Peter Smith was appointed acting headteacher before Dr Shaw’s replacement Deborah Reeman was appointed later in the month, with Mr Smith returning to deputy duties.

In May, Ofsted carried out its second monitoring visit to the school since the October inspection,

The inspector found that the school “is making reasonable progress towards the removal of special measures” but that it should remain in that category. The same month, Mr Smith left his role by mutual agreement.

The Journal has been told that the governors opted to resign en masse as a result.

In its place, an interim executive board has been put introduced, with membership selected by Northumberland County Council and approved by the Department for Education.

A recent letter from Mrs Reeman, former head of school at King Edward VI School in Morpeth, to parents explains: “The IEB will lead the school as it moves in to the next phase of its development, determined to offer the young people of Prudhoe the best deal possible when it comes to their education.”

The letter says the board will consider the option of becoming an academy, the only alternative to closure recommended by the Government for schools in special measures.

Hexham Conservative MP Guy Opperman said: “Prudhoe High School is a school with good standards, excellent teachers and hard working pupils. These changes will ensure the school has the leadership it needs to provide the best possible education to our young people, and that is all that truly matters.

“I have personally met with the new headteacher who is already providing a very strong steer for the school.

“This is the next step is securing a new leadership team who can work with the headteacher to deliver an excellent high school for our young people in Prudhoe.

“I know that some people will be concerned about a change in the governing body, but the council has my full support in ensuring the school has the best possible tools and strategies at its disposal to improve the current situation.”

Former chairman of governors Eileen Burt declined to comment.

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