Monday, April 04, 2011

Howden Secondary School Moving Forward

As both a parent of a year 7 pupil and Governor at Howden Secondary School, I attended last week’s parents meeting to discuss the progress the school is making on implementing our Post Ofsted Action Plan, and to discuss the findings of the Local Authority inspections.

As a Governor appointed after the school found itself in special measures I feel one of my key roles is to scrutinise the school leadership and the performance of the school, and whenever possible be the voice of the parents – asking the questions they would want to ask. But as Governors, our job is also to take an overview and to offer support to staff and, where possible, advice.

I have been impressed by the concept of ‘Team Howden,’ the team ethos that now runs through everything the school does. This has improved communication throughout the school, and brought together teachers, pupils, parents and Governors in one team to move the school forward and lift if out of Special Measures – a tag nobody connected with the School or any parent wants to see.

The progress since September has been excellent in my view. Attendance has improved, the number of children being removed from lessons has reduced, the number of exclusions has fallen, and most importantly very few of the lessons observed by the School’s Leadership Team and the independent Local Authority Inspectors have been graded as unsatisfactory, with most now being satisfactory to good.

The extra pressures of being in Special Measures have of course affected the staff. The changes in ways of working and the increased workload have contributed to the rise in the sickness rates, resulting in a bigger dependency on supply teachers, which is a concern. The resulting lack of continuity, being real or perceived, does raise questions as to whether the pupils are reaching their full potential. This is something the Governors and Leadership Team are aware of and are looking to address as soon as possible.

At the recent Governors meeting is was unanimously agreed to continue with the services of Dave McCready as Executive Head and Gary Garghan as Acting Head for a further year. I have been seriously impressed with what both have done for the school, they have in many ways renewed the school and by putting in place new policies and procedures have laid a strong foundation on which to rebuild. I stated at the meeting that Dave McCready and Gary Garghan were best qualified to rebuild on that foundation, and am pleased to see them continue their great work.

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