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Wednesday, October 21, 1998 Published at 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK


Education

Ridings School comes off failing list

The Ridings School now has high staff morale

The Ridings School in Halifax - which acquired the unhappy label of being 'Britain's worst school' - has been taken off the failing list.


The BBC's Khalid Javed: Parents and pupils say a semblance of normality has returned to the Ridings
After two years of monitoring while plans for improvement were implemented, the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) says that this once notorious school has been "transformed".

The Ridings became infamous as the 'school from hell' when it was closed temporarily in 1996 because staff felt 60 pupils were unteachable. Now the Ofsted inspection team says that behaviour has "clearly improved".


[ image: Headteacher Anna White was praised by inspectors]
Headteacher Anna White was praised by inspectors
Reflecting the rescue of the crisis-hit school, this year the school achieved its first A-level passes and the school roll has begun to rise.

"In almost nine out of ten lessons the quality of teaching is now satisfactory or better; in almost half it is good or very good," the inspectors found.

Behaviour

"There is now generally good behaviour, pupils are attentive and wanting to learn and they have teachers who can teach them. The standard of teaching has improved greatly," Ofsted says.

Two years ago staff were so angered by the deteriorating behaviour of pupils that they threatened industrial action, now the Ofsted inspectors found that "staff morale is high".

Anna White, who was appointed headteacher while the school was in the full glare of bad publicity, was praised for her part in turning the school around.

Also credited with improvements in the school was Peter Clark, a headteacher from a neighbouring school who was seconded to work alongside Anna White at the Ridings.

As part of his efforts to restore order at the school he permanently excluded 12 pupils.

Congratulations

Mr Clark has complained of mismanagement by the local authority, Calderdale, which allowed standards at the school to fall.

In a new book about the Ridings case, he accuses Calderdale councillors of seeking to undermine his authority by trying to overturn his decision to exclude a troublesome pupil.

Mr Clark congratulated Anna White and the staff and students for what he called the "tremendous and well-deserved achievement" of coming out of special measures in only two years.

"They should be proud of their achievement," he said. "The school is well set for its continued success."

Calderdale education authority itself now faces the disapproval of the government, with the Department for Education threatening earlier this year to take over the authority's powers.

The School Standards Minister, Estelle Morris, granted Calderdale a reprieve in September but said more still needed to be done to improve the management of education services, and the authority's performance would be reviewed during the next year.



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