Richmond School governors step down en masse

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Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Richmond)

THE governors at one of North Yorkshire's leading secondary schools have resigned in a dispute with the head teacher and the local education authority.

The governors of Richmond School resigned en masse on Monday after North Yorkshire County Council issued the governors with a warning notice.

The notice was issued under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 used when the local education authority believes there is a serious breakdown in the way the school is managed or governed which is prejudicing, or likely to prejudice, standards of performance.

The former governors of Richmond School, led by chairwoman Anne Skeoch, wrote to Peter Dwyer and Janet Bates of North Yorkshire County Council's children and young peoples service, to say they found the grounds on which a warning notice was based to be biased.

The letter states: "The governing body is disturbed that the local authority did not provide any substantive evidence to support the conclusions that were recorded in the notice; furthermore, there appeared to be a reluctance to disclose such evidence.

"You confirmed that there had been no prior discussion with any member of the governing body to test the validity of the conclusions recorded in the notice."

The letter pointed out that a 2013 Ofsted report, based upon an inspection carried in February 2013, said: "strong leadership, including the work of the governing body, is driving secure, swift and sustained improvements in students progress, and added: Members of the governing body provide strong challenge to holding the school to account."

The governors added: "The notice delivered by you at the meeting on Thursday, February 13, records conclusions entirely at odds with the Ofsted conclusions we believe that the significant differences in the views expressed in the documents serve to undermine considerably the credibility of the warning notice.

"We have concluded the combined actions of the headteacher and the local authority have fatally undermined the ability of this body to comply with its statutory duties of effectively monitoring and holding to account the schools leadership team.

"Given this, and whilst we believe there are extensive and forceful grounds for challenging the notice, governors have serious reservations now as to the possibility of any form of sound governance at the school, whether by this or a new body."

North Yorkshire County Councillor Arthur Barker said: "Clearly these are matters of an important and confidential nature but I can assure all that no safeguarding issues are involved.

"At a meeting on Thursday, February 13, officers from Children and Young Peoples Service met the governing body. Following that meeting the full governing body chose to resign.

"The local authority will now appoint an interim executive board and will appoint a new governing body as soon as possible.

"The day-to-day running of the school and the educational provision for pupils will not be affected."

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