Parents pack meeting over school concerns

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DISILLUSIONED parents held a meeting to discuss how to take a troubled high school forward.

Around 120 concerned parents, pupils, council representatives and a former teacher turned up at The Hebden Bridge Trades Club to air their grievances over Calder High.

The Mytholmroyd school was last month given a notice to improve by Ofsted after inspectors reported seeing pupils using foul and racist language, smoking and engaging in other bad behaviour.

The major concerns raised at the meeting were: pupil’s behaviour, teacher’s behaviour towards the students, a lack of communication from senior management at the school, the availability of drugs and pornography at the school - and the lack of action being taken to stop it and a “streaming” system - where pupils are put into the same set for all subjects regardless of ability.

Retired Calder High teacher Anne Todd said: “A lot of staff don’t approve of the way the school is being run and they are frightened about putting their head above the parapet to say so.”

Mrs Todd questioned why the school’s head Carol Spillane hadn’t been offered more support from Calderdale Council.

Parents decided to set up a steering group, with the aim of having more of a say on school policy. It will have its first meeting at The Trades Club on April 25, from 7.30pm.

One of the items on the agenda will be the action plan to take the school forward, which has been drawn up by Calder High senior management and Calderdale Council.

The plan includes: creating clearer lines of communication, a rigorous assessment of progress of objectives, support for the head teacher and chairman of governors, a whole school review in June to see if improvements are being made and more.

Consultation meetings will be held with parents at the school from April 30 to May 4.

However, if parents are not happy with the outcome of the action, Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker has offered to step in: “If it is the will of the people, then I would intervene and take their concerns to Michael Gove - the Education Minister.”