Probe at Leeds school where results get worse and intruder managed to scale fence and assault pupils

THE NEW head teacher at a Leeds school raised concerns over falling exam results and “inadequate teaching and learning” at a governors meeting.

David Young Academy in Seacroft.  PIC: Tony Johnson
David Young Academy in Seacroft. PIC: Tony Johnson

Minutes of the meeting at the David Young Community Academy also say the school had “considerably over estimated” the expected performance of pupils in this year’s GCSEs.

Although governors had previously been told more than half (55 per cent) cohort would achieve five or more A* to C GCSE grades, including English and maths, in fact just over a third (34 per cent) did.

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Governors were also told there had been safeguarding concerns over the school building, in East Leeds, not being secure. In the second week of term a member of public scaled the fence and assaulted two pupils, according to the minutes. In another incident a parent walked straight into a classroom and removed a child.

These concerns about the security of the school site are now understood to have been addressed.

The minutes from a meeting on September 9, show the school principal Jeremy Richardson’s analysis of the school’s results. He warned attainment at the school was significantly below the national average, declining and below Government floor standards.

He said there was a three year downward trend in results and a high risk of the academy going into an Ofsted category.

The proportion of students leaving the academy with no qualification was said to have increased every year since 2013, This year the figure was 9.4 per cent. The proportion of disadvantaged students achieving five A* to C grades has declined over the last three years from 39.7 per cent in 2013 to 25.9 per cent in 2015. The gap between the performance of these students and other students nationally has widened. However there had been an increase in the number of students achieving A* and A grades.

The proportion of disadvantaged students gaining five A* to C grades has declined over the last three years from 39.7 per cent in 2013 to 25.9 per cent in 2015. The governing body minutes conclude by saying the main areas of concern were: safeguarding, deterioration of results over the last three years and misalignment of predictions against outcomes; inadequate teaching and learning and finally student behaviour and attendance. The minutes show that governors decided that if the LEAF Board did not take the David Young Community Academy’s governors concerns seriously then governors would go directly to Ofsted. The governing body did go to Ofsted after being dissatisfied with the response of the academy trust board.

Earlier in the same meeting in September, minutes show the chief executive of the LEAF Trust and former school principal Ros McMullen also answered governors’ questions about results.

She said the results were very disappointing and said there was a huge disparity between predictions and outcomes and that questions had to be asked about competency in making predictions and monitoring of progress.

The minutes show that she suggested that during 2013 and 2014 there was a slow deterioration in culture around learning behaviour in the academy. But she also said there was confidence that staff were competent and monitoring had been done.

Poor prior attainment of students and external factors, such as the way exam results are made to be stable nationally, had a major impact on the school’s results, governors were told, according to the minutes.

Governors stated that there had been assurances given that the quality of teaching was improving in the academy but this was not shown in the results. Governors said they did not have confidence that the quality of teaching in the academy is good. According to the minutes Ms McMullen responded that the 100 per cent increase in students achieving A*,A and B grades showed there is good teaching and the increase in pupils achieving five A* to D grades should also give reassurance.

The minutes show governors expressed concern and thought it totally unacceptable that the predictions were so significantly different from the results and that this has had a devastating effect on individual students.

*The LEAF Board have announced that the Bishop of Richmond, the Rev Paul Slater has taken over as chairman.

This decision has been welcomed in a statement issued on behalf of David Young Community Academy’s governing body.