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'Good' Carlisle primary school in special measures

A primary school has been plunged into special measures just 12 months after it was ranked good, and following a £1.1m rebuild that has been dogged by delays.

Yewdale School in Carlisle, which has 258 pupils, is being put into special measures by Government watchdog Ofsted because inspectors now judge it to be inadequate, the lowest ranking on its four-point scale.

In a breakdown of their findings, inspectors say pupil achievement, leadership and management and the quality of teaching are inadequate. Pupil behaviour and safety they say ‘requires improvement’.

Headteacher Dianne Irving has moved to reassure parents and the community in the west of Carlisle that efforts are being made to address the failings.

The inspectorate puts a school in special measures when it concludes it is not providing an acceptable standard of education and leaders do not demonstrate the capacity to bring about the necessary improvements.

Failing schools are then closely monitored for two years.

Just 12 months ago, Yewdale was judged to be a good school, having improved from being satisfactory in 2010.

But in the new report published this week, inspectors state its performance has declined over the past year.

They added: “There is little to suggest that it is well placed to make a rapid recovery because there are no clear plans to show how leaders and managers intend to make improvements.”

Despite their support, governors have ‘allowed weaknesses to creep in’ and have not held leaders to account. Inspectors also report that they found that many leadership duties were ‘neglected’ despite the school having three senior managers, as well as its headteacher and deputy head.

The report also records:

  • Too few pupils are making sufficient progress by the time they leave year six and as a result standards in English and maths are below average;
  • Standards have fallen because not enough has been done to reverse the recent deterioration in teaching and decline in pupils’ progress and attainment;
  • Pupils are not taught well enough and over time it will add up to inadequate teaching, leading to pupils making inadequate progress;
  • Some pupils display careless attitudes to work and learning.

Inspectors also acknowledge the ‘huge disruption’ building work at the school has caused for over a year.

About £1.1m is being spent on expanding Yewdale as part of the county council’s efforts to create more primary school places across the city to meet an increasing demand due to rising birth rates.

Workington-based firm Jacobs Stobbarts is the developer working to create five new classrooms and completing a range of alterations to the existing building.

The redevelopment was due to be completed in January, but the project has been hit by several delays.

Ofsted inspectors note that contractors have ‘repeatedly not met deadlines for completion’, adding: “Large areas of the school remain inaccessible and uncertainty about future deadlines for completion is causing increasing concern among leaders, managers, governors and parents.”

It is understood the work will now be completed in July.

A county council spokesman said the delays were ‘outside the control’ of the contractor.

Inspectors, however, praised the way Yewdale School looked after its pupils and kept them safe, the improvements in children’s reading abilities, and the work done to help disadvantaged pupils and those with special educational needs.

Urgent improvements called for include making better use of experienced teachers after it was found that only 12 of the school’s 17 teachers teach pupils regularly. Experienced teachers have been promoted and do very little teaching, inspectors found, limiting their ability to demonstrate good practice to others.

Headteacher Mrs Irving said the staff and governors were “deeply disappointed in the outcome of the Ofsted inspection.

She said: “I would like to reassure parents and the wider community that we have already begun to address the issues highlighted by Ofsted and we are confident that these actions will deliver rapid improvement.”

There are around 320 schools in Cumbria. Only 10 are in special measures of which Yewdale is the only Carlisle primary school.

Have your say

The biggest failing in this matter is Cumbria County Council and the LEA. CCC are the ones who bear the responsibility for education and they are the ones who should be on top of things, they are not.
Where has been the supervision from CCC. Where is the offer of help from CCC?
Odd that the only comment in the above from CCC is reference to: " the delays were ‘outside the control’ of the contractor." Who sorted out the contracts for this work and failed to put in any completion clauses?
I do not know the truth of this matter if this school is indeed failing or not, however I do know from Workington how badly CCC have let down the students, staff and parents. CCC are incapable of remedying any situation other than coming up with ONLY one option, close the schools. CCC appear to be simply trying to get rid of their responsibilities for education in this county by forcing the schools into academies, thereby they have no control over them. Pretty sad really.

Posted by edd on 29 April 2014 at 07:59

With the state red tape education system, your child will be better off if you deregister them from state education and educate them at home.

Posted by Graeme on 29 April 2014 at 07:08

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