Fire hit Leyland school placed in ‘special measures’

Special measures: Headteacher Kathryn McNicholas
Special measures: Headteacher Kathryn McNicholas
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Leyland St Mary’s High School has been placed into special measures after Ofsted inspectors found staff unrest has contributed to the “significant decline in the school’s effectiveness”.

The leadership and management, quality of teaching and achievement of pupils are all inadequate, whilst the behaviour and safety of pupils requires improvement, according to inspectors.

The news comes just days after a 16-year-old boy was sentenced to an 18-month detention and training order over a blaze, which caused £15.5m of damage to the school last September.

Now, a report compiled by four inspectors said there is a “culture of mistrust and fear” between senior leaders and staff, and that “the school does not promote equality of opportunity or tackle discrimination well enough.” It reads: “Leyland St Mary’s has experienced a considerable amount of staff absence and unrest, low morale and little unity of purpose.

“This situation has not been resolved and has contributed to the significant decline in the school’s effectiveness, which is now inadequate. Senior leaders, subject leaders and governors are ineffective and are not doing enough to improve the quality of teaching and students’ achievement.”

They add that the quality of teaching is also inadequate, and found that the school does not communicate effectively with parents, who have “lost confidence in the school, particularly in its leadership and management, the quality of the teaching and students’ achievement.”

Headteacher Kathryn McNicholas says she accepts the findings, but said parents should be reassured that steps are already in place to make improvements.

“We had already recognised the need to improve and we welcome the Ofsted inspectors’ helpful suggestions,” she said. “We all want the school to make rapid progress, and the rigorous monitoring we will receive from HMI inspectors over the next two years will help us move more quickly towards our targets.

“Ofsted has acknowledged that a number of appropriate improvement initiatives have already been put in place and by their next visit we hope that inspectors will see the difference they are making.”

Earlier this year, teachers held a one-day strike after they were disappointed at the outcome of an investigation into problems at the school and said the strike followed the failure to resolve their “deep concerns over poor management practices” at the school.