Calderdale's recommendations expressed 'major concerns'

Calderdale local education authority, which was lambasted by the Education Secretary Gillian Shephard last week on the grounds that it had ignored problems at The Ridings school, insists that its behaviour support team made recommendations to the school which were never implemented.

Denise Faulconbridge, assistant director of education at Calderdale, said that the council had made three reports on The Ridings over the past year, in March, June and September.

It had expressed "major concerns" about the school's "Discipline for Learning" behaviour policy for some time and had communicated these doubts to the school on several occasions. "We considered that it was working against pupils with special needs; these pupils were falling foul of the policy repeatedly - being given checks (black marks) and sent off to isolation. Nobody was dealing with their needs."

The two new heads, Peter Clark and Anna White, confirmed that they had read three reports highlighting the large number of pupils with low reading ages. A new literacy drive is planned.

Denise Faulconbridge said: "The team produced three detailed reports highlighting problems in tghe school behaviour management system and identifying particularly difficult pupils, but the authority does not have the power to force schools to take the recommendations on board. I feel very strongly that The Ridings has received quite a lot of support." She added that Calderdale would be holding a full inquiry tracking all the advice and resources given to The Ridings in the past.

Contrary to some press reports, Calderdale does have a pupil referral unit, as well as several projects aiming to get excluded pupils back into a mainstream school or into jobs or training. The home tuition service, however, only amounts to six hours a week.

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