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Damning report on Northern Ireland school

By Cate McCurry

A Northern Ireland school at the centre of a highly critical report may need outside help after "serious and significant" concerns were raised.

A damning report revealed exam results well below the Northern Ireland average, inadequate planning, concerns about leadership roles, and pupils feeling unsafe, following an inspection at Glengormley High.

The Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) report stated there was "limited confidence" in aspects of governance at the non-selective school on the outskirts of north Belfast.

The school faced controversy last year after it was accused of failing to address its bullying issues by current and former pupils.

The recent report said that the school was a high priority for a no notice inspection, and that it may require external support.

ETI said it will return to the school within weeks to monitor progress in how it is addressing issues.

As part of the long-running dispute over pay, teachers and principals in Northern Ireland are refusing to co-operate with ETI.

This includes teachers at Glengormley High School, and prior to its inspection the body was made aware of this, although ETI said it still has a statutory duty to report on the quality of education.

The report highlighted that pupils' exam results were "too low" and needed significant improvement at all levels.

It added that the curriculum planning and review process was not adequately meeting the needs of all the pupils.

It criticised the leadership and management in the use of their planning process and said it needed to be revisited and revised as a "matter of urgency".

It further stated that a high proportion of middle and senior leadership posts were either recent appointments or acting in a temporary capacity.

And it said a "significant minority" of pupils told inspectors they did not always feel safe in the school and were not confident that any issues raised will be resolved.

The Department of Education said: "The (areas) that were evaluated identified serious and significant concerns and under normal circumstances the department would place the school into the formal intervention process.

"In the absence of such an overall effectiveness conclusion, the school will not enter the process at this stage.

"The department will, however, be writing to the Education Authority (EA) to seek assurances that they will work with the school to bring about the required improvements identified."

A concerned parent of a pupil, who asked not to be named, said she no longer had confidence in the school.

The Newtownabbey mum said: "The results are going down and they are not offering as many subjects as they should be.

"I am tempted to move my child somewhere else if the school doesn't improve."

A statement from the school said it acknowledged the outcomes of the report.

"We are currently working closely with the EA to implement the recommendations in the report. Many of these recommendations have already been fully addressed and we continue to focus on the other areas identified for improvement," it added.

"Due to action short of a strike, the ETI inspectors were not able to observe the teaching, which the governors and staff believe to be of a very high quality.

"There is a strong sense of community in our school, with positive relationships between staff and pupils. We strive to provide the best possible education."

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