Updated: Leeds school is placed in special measures as Ofsted warns of breakdown between academy trust and governors

A TROUBLED LEEDS school has been placed in special measures in an Ofsted report which warned the relationship between the academy trust responsible for it and the school’s governing body had broken down.

Friday, 4th December 2015, 2:49 pm
Ros McMullen outside David Young Community Academy in Leeds.

The education watchdog has rated the David Young Community Academy in Seacroft as inadequate in all inspection areas.

The report has been published today as it was confirmed that Ros McMullen the school’s executive principal and the chief executive of the LEAF Academy Trust was leaving her post.

It also follows an independent inspection which was commissioned by the school’s new principal Jeremy Richardson after David Young’s GCSE results were far worse than expected. The school had predicted 55 per cent of pupils achieving five good GCSEs, including English and maths, but only 34 per cent achieved it.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The new Ofsted report says leaders of the school and the academy trust have failed to fulfil legislative requirements relating to safeguarding and to health and safety.

And it warns that a breakdown in relationships between the academy trust and the local governing body, school leaders and staff has delayed essential academy improvements.

Ofsted say that until recently, governors have not challenged school leaders effectively and have been too reliant on senior leaders for information on how well the academy was doing.

Inspectors found that the LEAF academy trust “has an unrealistic view of the academy’s effectiveness, which has been in decline for some time.”

The report says that the new principal has rapidly established an accurate picture of the academy’s position and gained the confidence of governors, senior leaders and staff. “The local governing body, senior leaders and staff have confidence in the new principal and the changes he has proposed but this is not acknowledged by the academy trust,” the report adds.

The report warns that pupils’ achievement, including in the sixth form, is inadequate and standards are too low.

Inspectors also said the behaviour of pupils was inadequate. “Discussions with teachers and responses to the inspection questionnaire confirmed significant staff concerns with poor pupil behaviour throughout the academy. Too often, pupils do not listen to adults and ignore their directions. Pupils’ conduct at the start and end of the day, at breaks and lunchtimes is at times, poor.”

The only main strength listed in the report was that the new principal had quickly established an accurate picture of the academy’s position and had begun to tackle long-term weaknesses in its effectiveness.

The report describes the leadership of the academy as dysfunctional and adds: “There is a failure in effective communication between the academy trust and the group of other key stakeholders, including the recently appointed principal, the local governing body, other senior academy leaders and teachers.”

It says that as a matter of urgency the school needs to carry out an external review of site security, ensure gaps in the academy’s recruitment checks are corrected. and ensure members of the academy trust, the local governing body, the principal and the academy leaders, resolve the current breakdown in relationships.

The report was published this afternoon.

The newly appointed chairman of the LEAF trust board The Rt Revd Paul Slater, the Bishop of Richmond, says: “We are very disappointed to have received this judgement from Ofsted. We take all the issues raised in the report very seriously and have taken immediate action to address them. Our new Principal has the expertise needed to make rapid improvements, and he has the unanimous support of the academy’s staff. We are confident that under his leadership the school will get back on track swiftly and once again provide all our students with high quality education.

“Jeremy Richardson joined the school as Principal in August. He has previously been Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools (HMI) and a Senior School Improvement Adviser for National Strategies. In 2014 he brought a Sheffield school out of special measures as an associate headteacher.

Mr Richardson said: “It is clear from the report that we have a lot to do, and we have already started work on making the necessary improvements. In support of this, the Diocese has appointed Bishop Paul Slater as chair of the LEAF Trust, Leeds City Council is providing us with training and resources to help us ensure that our students are safe, and the Yorkshire Teaching School Alliance is working with us on our Ofsted action plan.

“Together, our staff and partners form a strong team with the same goal: to ensure that our young people have every opportunity to do their best and to develop their skills and talents in a school with a Christian ethos.

“I have set high standards for the future, and with the support of everyone connected with the academy, I firmly believe it can become the outstanding school that the young people and community of east Leeds deserves.”

Earlier today the Yorkshire Evening Post reported that Ms McMullen was leaving her post at the end of the year. She was the founding principal of the David Young Community Academy when it opened in 2006 and has since become both its executive principal and the chief executive of the LEAF Academy Trust which runs the school.

The trust was set up to run three academies in the city: Manston St James primary, Rothwell primary and David Young.

She is also a National Leader in Education and a high profile figure in the sector as part of the Heads Roundtable - a national group of school leaders who came together through Twitter and who now work to shape national education policy.The Bishop Slater said: “Ros McMullen has decided to pursue other career interests outside of the LEAF Trust and is currently on gardening leave until she leaves the Trust at the end of this school term, on December 31. We would like to thank Ros for the contribution she has made in establishing David Young Community Academy and the LEAF Trust and wish her well for the future.”

Ms McMullen said: “The time is right for me to move on. I have really enjoyed my time in Leeds initially as Principal at DYCA and latterly working with the Diocese establishing LEAF Trust and working with the primary schools - I have actually been here for 10 years which is a very long time, but the time is now right to explore a fresh challenges.

“I am grateful to the Trust for all their support and wish everyone well for the future.”

David Young replaced Braim Wood Boys’ School in Oakwood and Agnes Stewart CoE High in Burmantofts in 2006 and had been highlighted as a successful example of a school using academy freedoms. It was rated as good by Ofsted in 2009 and 2012.