Parents claim ‘serious failures’ at Durham school after ‘bad’ Ofsted report


PARENTS of children attending a school under fire in Durham have branded the education facility ‘appalling’ after serious concerns were highlighted about the school’s management and the provision of SEN in a recent Ofsted report.

St Leonard’s Catholic School in Durham city center received a ‘needs improvement’ rating on April 12 after inspectors visited the secondary and sixth form school in January this year.

Although it found “good” items in several categories, including “quality of education”, “behaviour and attitudes”, “sixth grade training” and “personal development”, the report continued indicating that there was a “fragmented” relationship between parents and the school, as well as the problems of relations with SEN and disadvantaged pupils.

Read more: St Leonard’s Durham receive poor Ofsted report after ‘serious concerns’

Alongside concerns, the school was rated as ‘in need of improvement’ in the leadership and management section – with Ofsted Principal Inspector James Duncan saying that ‘the leader’s effectiveness in driving improvement the whole school had been inconsistent and lacked sufficient rigor and rigor”. consistency”, due to high staff turnover.

Now, three days after the ‘damning’ report was published, parents who have children at St Leonard’s, many of whom have special educational needs, have denounced the ‘appalling’ treatment the school subjected them to.

Paul Kelly, whose daughter attends Catholic secondary school and year six, accused leaders at St Leonard of ‘never accepting responsibility for their failures’.

St Leonard’s Catholic School, Durham. Photo: ECHO OF THE NORTH.

In the past, Mr Kelly has made a formal complaint against the Durham-based school – but does not hope the ‘chess pattern’ will change.

He told the Northern Echo: ‘I am appalled at the treatment this school has of my daughter and myself.

“Management refuses to accept any wrongdoing, the Chairman of Governors has no real power to challenge the Chief – that’s what he told me when I filed a formal complaint.

“They have ignored Ofsted’s findings and continue to treat pupils and parents appallingly.”

Read more: Photos from the scene of the County Durham school fire

In the Ofsted report, it was noted that the inspection had been carried out following complaints made to Ofsted which raised “serious concerns”.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector has decided that an inspection of the school should take place to follow up on issues raised throughout the school.

Another parent of a child at St Leonard’s, Victoria Davies, has a disabled daughter who she says was kicked out of class for ‘typical ADHD traits and behaviour’, while she also blamed the school to “stifle” freedom of expression through its social media accounts.

Ms Davies said: ‘My youngest daughter is still there. His experience is slightly different in that the children are constantly checked to make sure the uniforms are correct so that the school looks good.

The Northern Echo: Mary Kelly Foy, MP for Durham City.  Photo: ECHO OF THE NORTH.Mary Kelly Foy, MP for Durham City. Photo: ECHO OF THE NORTH.

“That is unfortunately the only thing they are concerned about. There is a Twitter account and an Instagram account for the school and if anyone makes a negative comment it is deleted and blocked. In what world is freedom of expression bad?”

Along with parents’ concerns, Durham City MP Mary Kelly Foy addressed the issues at St Leonard’s – saying she will ‘fully consult’ with the school and its education provider, Bishop Wilkinson Trust .

Speaking to The Northern Echo, Ms Foy said: ‘As President of the APPG for Cerebral Palsy and a champion for children with disabilities in parliament, the education and welfare of SEND students is extremely important to me. .

“Over the past 12 months, I have raised the concerns of parents at St Leonards School about the schools SEND provision with senior management, while advising parents of formal complaint processes with school governors and the Ministry of Education.

The Northern Echo: Chris Hammill, manager of St Leonard's.  Photo: ECHO OF THE NORTH.Chris Hammill, manager of St Leonard’s. Photo: ECHO OF THE NORTH.

“Having reviewed Ofsted’s report in full, I will be considering other ways to help parents, students and the school to address these identified issues. As such, I will be raising the report with senior management at the school and the Bishop Wilkinson Trust in the coming days.

In response to claims made against the school, St Leonard’s principal Chris Hammill has ‘accepted’ the Ofsted rating and wants to build on the work he thinks the school is doing.

He said: “We fully accept the areas for improvement identified in the report.

“We continue to work hard for all of our students, especially those with SEND and look forward to continuing to engage positively with families in this regard.

“We are asking all families with outstanding questions to let the school know so that we can provide the necessary support.”

  • Read a full interview with Chris Hammill in Saturday’s Northern Echo

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