Nidderdale school plagued with problems is praised for progress

Headteacher Marc Peart has been with the school since July 2015.
Headteacher Marc Peart has been with the school since July 2015.

Staff at a special needs school near Darley have celebrated the positive comments from their latest Ofsted report after a long troubled history.

Less than one year ago, Forest Moor School was taken out of 'special measures' for the first time since it opened in 2012.

But since that last inspection, the school has made even more progress with the most recent Ofsted report stating senior leaders are taking effective action to turn Forest Moor into a 'good' school.

Headteacher, Marc Peart said: "I'm really pleased for the staff and pupils, who have worked hard to develop the quality of the school and that this has been again recognised.

“We continue to work hard developing our provision for all pupils and have recruited a number of exceptional staff who joined the team in January.

"It’s a positive time to be at Forest Moor.”

Originally opened under the name Foremost School, Forest Moor was the replacement site for two other residential schools in the area for students with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties.

The site, which amalgamated previous provisions became a boarding institute for boys aged 11-16, but it quickly fell into trouble.

In the school's very first term, the headteacher, nearly ten members of staff and five governors all resigned from their positions and its first inspection saw it placed into special measures.

Unions were in crisis talks over safety issues at the school as well, after it emerged that staff had been assaulted by students on more than 65 occasions.

But with a need for this kind of school in the area, the local authority appointed an interim headteacher in October 2014 to pull the school out of trouble.

Now Forest Moor School offers provision for boys and girls aged 9-16 with special educational needs and is marked by Ofsted as 'requires improvement'.

But the most recent monitoring inspection held in December last year proved very positive, recognising a number of efforts that have been made to improve.

The report commended improvements in staff development and training, students' attendance, responses to poor behaviour and pupils' writing and communication skills - something which had been a real issue previously.

Inspecting officer, Susan Hayter said in the report: "Some pupils are now writing independently and confidently at length. Equally important, some pupils are beginning to accept the need to improve their work - even if this means a re-write."

While she noted that 'fixed-term exclusions have risen slightly for a small number of pupils' she continued 'this is due, in part, to their response to your determination to establish clear expectations of behaviour.'

County Councillor Arthur Barker, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Schools also expressed his delight at the report and the authority's commitment to ensure the school progresses further.

He said: “Forest Moor plays a very important role in the county to support children and young people with considerable needs”

“We are more than pleased with the progress that is being made and the recognition we are getting from Ofsted for moving in the right direction.

“Our priority is to develop Forest Moor into a good school where we can guarantee that young people are well educated and prepared for life."