Staff sick-days shocker at troubled Leeds school

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staff at a Leeds school have taken more than six years’ worth of sick leave in the past year.

Workers at Hillcrest Primary School in Chapeltown each took an average of three weeks off due to sickness between 2011 and 2012, the Yorkshire Evening Post can reveal.

At 15 working days per staff member, that’s around twice the average across Leeds schools, which is 7.77.

Ofsted inspectors flagged up the “high volume of staff absence” in a recent report.

In addition to the 1,207.88 days lost to sickness, employees at trouble-hit Hillcrest notched up a further 221.34 days on leave of absence.

The inspectors’ report said: “There remains a degree of resistance to the school’s vision for the future.

“This manifests itself in some non-compliance with agreed protocols and practices by staff, which is impeding and undermining efforts to achieve greater consistency and quality throughout the school.”

Paul Brennan, Leeds City Council’s deputy director of children’s services, said: “We are taking active steps to reduce staff absences. Another area we are helping is with staff support and training.”

He revealed the council had drafted in Allison Chin – headteacher of the “outstanding” Swinnow Primary in Bramley, who received an OBE for her services to education last year – to take over as acting head after Easter.

Earlier this year the YEP revealed how pupils as young as five at the school were taking anger-management classes in a bid to curb bad behaviour.

Between 2010 and 2011, almost 40 youngsters were excluded for issues including physical assaults on fellow students and adults. Around 30 of these problem pupils were under 10 years old.

In stark contrast, the average number of exclusions in Leeds primary schools over the same period was just 2.1.

The damning Ofsted report, published in January, said attainment was lower at the end of 2011 than in 2010; students were significantly below average in reading and writing and most teaching was inadequate or satisfactory.

Mr Brennan said: “We have been and are continuing to work closely with Hillcrest to help the school address the challenges highlighted in the Ofsted report.”

He added: “We believe we are already beginning to make significant progress on many of the issues and recognise that a lot of work still needs to be done.”

Ninety per cent of Hillcrest’s 429 pupils live in areas ranked among the 10 per cent most deprived in the country.

There are 24 teachers and 58 support staff. In total, this is the equivalent of just over 65 full-time staff.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request submitted to the council by the YEP revealed that between March 2011 and March 2012, each “full-time equivalent” took 15 days off sick.

debbie.leigh@ypn.co.uk

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