Leeds school launches investigation after unexpected drop in GCSE grades

THE NEW head teacher of an academy has ordered a school-wide investigation after its GCSE results were far worse than predicted and below Government floor targets

Monday, 9th November 2015, 12:26 am
David Young Community Academy in Leeds.

David Young Community Academy, in Leeds, had expected 55 per cent of pupils to pick up five good GCSEs, including English and maths, this summer, but only 34 per cent achieved it.

The Yorkshire Post can also reveal that the David Young’s governing body has asked both Ofsted and the Regional Schools Commissioner for support after being dissatisfied with the response of the academy trust board responsible for the school.

Minutes from a school governing body meeting, in September, also show concerns had been voiced about the quality of teaching, pupil behaviour and the security of the school’s site.

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Concerns over safeguarding incidents include a member of the public scaling the fence and assaulting two pupils and a parent being able to walk into the school and remove their child.

Governors were told the building was not secure and nobody had control of automatic doors at the main entrance. It is understood that this issue has now been resolved. David Young was one of the first city academies to open in Yorkshire in 2006. It is now part of the LEAF Academy Trust which comprises three schools: David Young and two other primaries.

It has previously been rated as good by Ofsted in 2009 and 2012.

David Young Community Academy’s former chairman of governors Karen Osborne told The Yorkshire Post the local governing body had concerns about this year’s GCSE results which were significantly below predictions. She said their concerns were raised with the LEAF board but added: “We did not believe the LEAF board acted appropriately or proportionately in light of the concerns raised.” After being dissatisfied with the LEAF board’s response The David Young Community Academy’s governing body wrote to both Ofsted and the Regional Schools Commissioner to raise the same concerns. She said: “I and my fellow members of the local governing body care deeply that the students of DYCA have access to the best possible education provision. We felt it was the right thing to do to raise these concerns when the school was in need of support, so that the different bodies could help the governors and the school to take the right action in the interests of the students.”

Ofsted has since carried out an unannounced inspection and a report will be published in due course. Minutes of a governors meeting warn that the school is at risk of being placed in a failing category.

The Bishop of Richmond, the Rev Paul Slater has now been appointed as the new chairman of the LEAF board.

Mrs Osborne and David Young Community Academy’s new acting chairman of governors Brian Crosby have issued a statement welcoming his appointment and expressing support for the school’s principal. They said: “The local governing body want to express our full support for Jeremy Richardson, the current principal of DYCA. Jeremy has proved himself to be a very able leader who has great discernment and understanding of the current needs of the academy and the skill and experience to quickly address the issues”.

“The governing body of DYCA is delighted at the appointment of Bishop Paul as the new chair of LEAF and look forward to working with him and the board to quickly address the differences for the sake of the young people within the academy.”

When asked to comment on the situation the LEAF board issued a statement from Rev Slater which said: “There has recently been an inspection at the school but we cannot say anything more until the report has been published towards the end of this month. Our priority is the students - both their education and welfare - and we are working with the school to ensure that the children are in a safe and secure learning environment and are receiving appropriate learning experiences.”

The school has also sent a letter home informing parents that the governing body had taken the “unusual step” of inviting Ofsted to the school. It says: “You may be aware that the GCSE results at David Young Community Academy were not as good this year as they have been in previous years. This has led the new principal, Mr Jeremy Richardson, to commission a school wide investigation to identify the cause of this.” It adds that the school is confident that the senior leadership team, led by Mr Richardson, can move the academy forward.

The Department for Education has confirmed that the school contacted the Regional Schools Commissioner for Lancashire and West Yorkshire - an official responsible for decision making over academies, while Ofsted has confirmed an inspection took place and a report will be produced “in due course.”