Graham School vows rapid progress on improvement

Graham School’s new leadership has vowed to move forward with speed and determination to take the school out of special measures.

Graham School.

Paul Brockwell, Graham’s new head teacher, said staff and governors are “right behind” the new leadership team and that an action plan is underway to tackle the challenges ahead and make sure improvements can be sustained.

“This is a great school and the staff and governors are up for the challenge. We have incredible students with amazing talent and we need to have high expectations and the ambition that these young people can be the best that they can be.”

Mr Brockwell took up the reins as head at Graham School, Scarborough after spring half term as part of a new leadership team that North Yorkshire County Council brought in from the Yorkshire Teaching School Alliance. This followed the retirement of Helen McAvoy, the school’s previous head teacher and the Ofsted inspection.

Rob Pritchard, the Alliance’s lead for school to school support, will oversee Graham’s new leadership and its progress out of special measures. Mr Pritchard is also head teacher of St John Fisher Catholic High School in Harrogate, a National Leader of Education and an Ofsted inspector. He has recently overseen school improvement in several schools, most recently at Easingwold School where Paul Brockwell was part of his team.

Although Ofsted said Graham’s pupils make good progress in some classes and that teaching and learning has strengthened in English and Maths, inspectors judged the school to be inadequate. This was largely due to inconsistency in expectations of pupil behaviour; persistent low-level pupil disruption among a “significant minority”; high teacher rates of absence; an inconsistent quality of teaching, learning and assessment and student under-performance and poor attainment.

“We fully acknowledge that there is much work to do at Graham School” said Cllr Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Schools, “but we are confident that the new leadership team is fully up to the job. They have set off with great energy and enthusiasm and a huge commitment to the school community - to students and their families. They have lost no time in drawing up a school improvement action plan and there is a great deal of support for a fresh start.

“Graham School’s students deserve to enjoy the highest standards of teaching and learning so they can compete with the best for places in further and higher education and in the work place. The County Council has committed £2 million of capital funding to bring the school onto one site which will significantly improve the teaching and learning environment. With this new team in place, however, we believe no time will be lost in supporting students in the here and now to go forward and achieve to the best of their abilities.”

“We intend to move quickly beyond this Ofsted judgement,” said Mr Brockwell, “I view this new start as a great opportunity. Staff members are up for the challenge and we will all work together to raise and sustain teaching standards and to build students’ self-confidence as learners and self-belief that they are people who can compete as well as any in the global market.”

This story was published 29 June 2017