Report into doomed Skerton High School was flawed, say governors

Skerton Community High School
Skerton Community High School

Governors of doomed Skerton High say the report written ahead of the school’s closure was flawed.

The group has written to Lancashire County Council to point out what they feel are clear errors in the report, which will be used as part of the decision-making process on the future of the school today, Thursday.

Coun Coun Matthew Tomlinson, County Coun Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, is expected to officially close the school.

Falling numbers and poor grades have been blamed for the decision.

But school governors say the council report does not give a clear reflection of the current state of the school, which has just 140 pupils.

In the report it is claimed educational psychologists have worked with school staff, parents and pupils to support them through the consultation period.

But governors say in their letter to the council that this is “completely incorrect”.

They also say an Ofsted monitoring inspection in February which highlighted the school’s progress was made available to the council but not included in the report.

Despite the report claiming that places are available for all Skerton pupils at other local schools, governors have been told by parents that some have no places in certain year groups.

“How is the council going to implement this promise that it will “ensure that those pupils are able to continue with their chosen studies” if the named schools are unable to provide it?” the governors’ letter says.

In addition, parents of children with special educational needs have also been told by some schools that they do not have the provision to meet their needs.

The governors say: “The report does not address the needs of pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties, nor does it address the needs of pupils who have already been excluded from one or more of the other district schools.”

Current estimates are that the parents of 11 pupils, six of them in Year 10, will instead opt for home education.

Governors also noted that journey times for pupils moving to new schools would be considerably longer, going against a recommendation in the report.

Acting headteacher Lyndon Day said: “We are incredibly saddened on behalf of pupils, parents, staff, the community and future generations of children that it is highly likely we will not be around in the future to provide a caring, nurturing school in the Lancaster district.

“One of the most disappointing parts of the local authority’s report is the complete ignoring of the improvements recognised by HMI on their February visit to the school and therefore the basing of this report on old information.

“The pupils and staff have worked incredibly hard and are on the verge of being taken out of the serious weaknesses category.

“I have had no credible answer as to why this report has not been taken into consideration.

“In my opinion, it is because it is does not fit with the Authority’s view that we are a failing school and that pupils would receive a better education elsewhere.

“I believe that the closing of Skerton High is a financial decision not an educational one.

“We are now turning our attention to focusing on meeting the future needs of our pupils.

“We have made proposals for consideration and we are in daily contact with the LA to ensure that all our children’s educational needs are met as guaranteed in the consultation documents.

“I am aware that governors are monitoring the situation closely and will hold the authority to account in the best interests of pupils.”