Parents see red at failing 'banana'

27th February 2004 at 00:00
Yellow-painted Endeavour high school in Hull only opened six months ago, but now there are calls to put it in special measures. Stephen Lucas reports

Parents are calling for a pound;15 million secondary school to be put in special measures just six months after it opened.

They say Hull Endeavour school, whose new building was painted banana yellow to inspire pupils to learn, is failing their children who are being taught by too many unqualified teachers. One teacher told pupils to cheat in a mock GCSE exam, others have lost coursework.

On February 12, the headteacher David Throp resigned and, since this week, a team led by Kevin Beaton, the head of nearby Kingswood high school, has been running the school.

Phil Edwards, whose 16-year-old daughter, Alix, is taking her GCSEs at the school this year, is one of a group of around 20 parents who want to see the 1,200-place school put in special measures. They were preparing to put their case to a routine meeting yesterday between Office for Standards in Education inspectors and parents, as The TES went to press. An inspection is due on March 22.

Mr Edwards, 47, said: "There's been absolutely no communication between the school and parents. They've had major problems getting staff and they haven't told us. Alix is very disappointed. All the indicators said she'd get Cs, but now it looks like she'll leave with Gs and Fs.

"Her attendance is 100 per cent and the effort she's put in is 100 per cent. Coursework has gone missing, and in maths she's had supply teachers for months. A third party is needed to watch what the management at Endeavour is doing."

Heather Bristow, whose daughter Kirsty is taking her GCSEs this year, said:

"They are offering us extra tuition on Saturdays now, which is great, but it is too little too late."

Endeavour high opened in September 2001 on a split site. It was a merger of William Gee school and Amy Johnson school, both of which had come out of special measures. That year the percentage of pupils at the two schools who achieved five or more A*-C grades was 7 per cent. Last year the figure for Endeavour was 16.2 per cent.

The new building, on the site of the old Kingston General Hospital, opened last September.

Mr Edwards said: "The yellow paint makes it look like a factory for kids, not a school. It's naive of them to think a splash of yellow paint would make the kids learn."

Alix, his daughter, said that some of the windows had been smashed and there was grafitti in the toilets. "Some of the teachers are totally fine but a lot of the supply teachers don't know what they're doing."

Mr Beaton, the head at Kingswood high, where the percentage of pupils gaining at least five A*-C grades jumped from 3 per cent to 25 per cent in three years, met parents on Tuesday. He admitted that there were many teachers on the Graduate Teacher Programme at Endeavour.

He said: "They have significant numbers of unqualified staff here, but there are also good qualified staff. We can't fix things in two or three weeks."

Mr Beaton added: "Ofsted will make a judgment about whether the school deserves special measures. It's not to do with what the parents say. My experience of schools in special measures is that they are only needed if the management team can't cope without that support.

"We've got enough experience of working in challenging schools to do it ourselves."

Daren Hale, the chair of governors, said: "Although the school has improved the governors were keen to bring in a changed management team to help it move forward faster. Obviously David Throp made the decision to leave after that and go on to new challenges."

He confirmed that a teacher had allowed pupils to cheat in a mock exam. It was an isolated incident, he said, and the teacher had since left.

Mr Throp said: "I now feel it is time to move on to new challenges, using the experience I have gained at Endeavour and other projects."

Mr Edwards said that he would be taking Alix to Disneyland after her exams, no matter what grades she gets.

"She's done her best," he said.

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