Prudhoe Community High headteacher quits failing school

The headteacher at Prudhoe Community High School deemed to be failing has quit

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

The headteacher at a Northumberland high school deemed to be failing has quit his post.

Dr Iain Shaw, head at Prudhoe Community High, which was placed in special measures following a recent Ofsted inspection, left his post by “mutual agreement.”

No official reason has been given for Dr Shaw’s departure after seven years although one governor last night said she believed he had decided the time was right to “retire.”

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.

The findings caused anxiety among parents and the wider community.

The Journal reported last week how governors were looking at the school becoming an academy, with Government guidance currently suggesting that schools placed in special measures should either go down this route or close.

This would see the site become directly funded by the Government and independent of local authority control.

The move caused alarm among staff and trade unions who feared it would affect workers’ conditions and a loss of local control.

Chairman of governors Eileen Burt admitted at the time that governors would prefer to be allowed to bring the school out of special measures and continue as before, claiming the safeguarding issues raised by Ofsted had been dealt with, which included need to install fencing and locks at the site.

But she said academy status was preferable to closure, adding that local education authority Northumberland County Council and all other parties do not want the site to shut given that there are no alternative schools in the area for its 850 or so children.

The situation is further complicated by the fact the school was one of three the county council has put forward for Department of Education funding for a rebuild.

It was successful although the site was not to be given money in the first round of the department’s spending programme.

The county council subsequently vowed to make up any shortfall. Mrs Burt, a county and town councillor, last week said she was unsure whether the authority would fulfil that pledge should the school become an academy.

The departure of Dr Shaw was announced in a letter to parents from Coun Burt on Monday.

Deputy headteacher Peter Smith has been appointed acting headteacher.

In a statement issued on behalf of the council and governors last night, Daljit Lally, executive director of wellbeing and community health services at the authority, said: “The governing body of Prudhoe Community High School and Northumberland County Council can confirm that the headteacher of the school has left his post with effect from January 31, 2014.

“He leaves by mutual agreement after seven years’ service. We wish him well for the future.”

Broomhaugh, Stocksfield and Mickley county councillor Anne Dale, who was appointed as a governor at the school by the authority in the wake of the Ofsted findings, said she believed Dr Shaw had decided to “retire” and that it was the “right time to go.”

She said a working group had been set up to take the school forward, involving the chair of governors.

All parties, Coun Dale claimed, are committed to bringing the school out of special measures, while she vowed to push for the rebuild to take place and for the county council to fulfil its pledge should there be a shortfall in funding.

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