‘Robust’ plan needed for Bruntcliffe School

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Bruntcliffe School’s board of governors have been given 15 working days to come up with a “robust” plan of action to address parents’ concerns and move the school forward, it has been revealed.

Around 120 people attended a second public meeting at Morley Town Hall on Monday night, to discuss concerns including GCSE results and high staff turnover.

A letter on behalf of Paul Brennan from Leeds City Council Children’s Services was read out, which said: “The headteacher contacted the local authority on the day of the GCSE results in August. Since that time, she and her staff have been working intensively with us in order to rapidly bring about the improvements needed.

“We immediately increased our support to Bruntcliffe, met with the headteacher and the newly-appointed chair of governors, and formally wrote to the governing body to set out our concerns. The governing body must now respond satisfactorily to the local authority.”

Headteacher Heather Scott and the board of governors were invited to the meeting by email on Friday last week, but did not attend.

Leeds City Council confirmed that Children’s Services asked governors last Friday to construct the plan and the board now has three working weeks to respond. Another meeting for parents and other interested parties to further discuss their concerns or any responses, has been pencilled in for Monday October 6 at Morley Town Hall.

The chairman and vice-chairman of the governing committee submitted their resignations last month.

But a council spokesperson insisted that this was “unrelated to recent events” and that the move was due to the members’ work commitments.

Robert Smyth, the newly-appointed chairman of governors told the Observer: “Since taking up my post last Thursday, I have been brought up to speed with all the concerns raised by parents at their first meeting, and have called an extraordinary meeting of the full governing body to discuss all of these in detail.

“Addressing the education, safety and wellbeing needs of all of our students is our main priority at Bruntcliffe School, and we will continue to work closely with the local authority, the Department of Education and Ofsted to implement a robust plan to deliver the standards that we need to achieve.”

Coun Robert Finnigan of Morley Borough Independents, who spoke at the meeting on Monday, said: “We’ve had concerns for quite some time about what’s been happening at Bruntcliffe School. Governors now have to respond with a robust plan of action. This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Lindsay Thompson, 53, who has a daughter at the school in Year 9, was one of the parents at the meeting. She said: “I’m just generally worried about how the school’s being run. I’m thinking of taking my daughter out and sending her to private school, which I don’t want to do but her education must come first.”

Parents, former teachers and councillors were at the meeting on Monday night.

Last week governors gave a statement to the Observer saying: “At Bruntcliffe School we used the Leeds City Council model complaints policy for all formal complaints into the school. Formal complaints are always investigated carefully, often led by a trained Governor.

“It is unfortunate that in recent weeks a small number of parents/carers have not used to school’s complaints system effectively to raise concerns. The Governors continue to support the school as we move forward through the “Requires Improvement” Ofsted grade, towards our ultimate goal of becoming a “Good” school.

“Governors are aware of the complexity of school improvement, which is focused around creating the ultimate learning environment for every child in the school.”

Mr Brennan told the Observer: “Unfortunately I was unable to attend yesterday’s meeting regarding Bruntcliffe School, due to a prior commitment which I was unable to change. I did however meet with Morley councillors last week, to discuss the areas of concern, and I felt it was important to send a letter to the meeting outlining the steps we are taking to bring the school up to the expected standards. We want all children and young people in Leeds to attend a school which is good or outstanding and I will personally continue to work with the school, local ward members and parents, towards an outcome that is satisfactory for all concerned.”