A principal has been removed from her post and sent for training after the publication of one of the most damning school inspections ever in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
Poor teaching standards, exam results well below the Northern Ireland average, inadequate special needs provision, serious shortcomings in pastoral care and major deficiencies in management were all identified during an inspection at Crumlin Integrated College, Co Antrim, last month.
The Education and Training Inspectorate’s report concluded that the school is failing to provide an acceptable standard of education primarily due to shortcomings in management. It demands that urgent action is taken and will monitor progress made at the school.
The North Eastern Education and Library Board said that the school's principal — Dr Annabelle Scott — will be “given the opportunity to undertake a programme of training and support outside the school for a period of time”.
Following this, she is expected to return to the school. But the Telegraph understands that she has been officially suspended by the board of governors until June.
Dennis Harvey, principal of Monkstown Community School, has been appointed temporary principal. Monkstown’s vice principal Raymond Leeman will replace him during this time.
It is understood that another Crumlin IC staff member will come before the governors this week when a decision will be taken on their future at the school.
The Telegraph has also learned that the school could be as much as £200,000 in the red.
Parents have complained of harsh discipline — including a behaviour modification centre based in a mobile classroom which was criticised in the inspectors’ report. One source said that pupils returning from suspension were forced to spend a further week in the centre before returning to normal class.
The inspection report said that responses from teaching and support staff to a confidential questionnaire pointed to “strained working relationships within the school which are having a detrimental effect on its management and organisation, and on the development of the school’s pastoral and curricular provision”.
It went on to say: “Many pupils lack confidence, are not sufficiently focused on their work and make insufficient progress both academically and in their personal and social development.”
And: “The school is characterised by poor working relationships, lack of mutual support, and low morale, all of which are having a detrimental effect on the pupils’ learning.”
The quality of the learning and teaching in a significant minority of the lessons observed was rated “good” by the inspectors and in a few lessons “very good” — however, in one sixth of the lessons it was “inadequate”.
The leadership of the school was branded “unsatisfactory”.
To address the issues raised in the report, the inspectorate recommended that additional voting members with appropriate experience and expertise are appointed to the governing body.
Stanley Goudie, chief inspector of the Education and Training Inspectorate, said: “The inspection found that the leadership of Crumlin Integrated College is unsatisfactory and the senior management team do not have a realistic vision for the school. Overall the quality of education provided by this school is unsatisfactory.”
A North Eastern Education and Library Board statement said: “Both the NEELB and the college’s board of governors have accepted the findings and have agreed to work together to bring about improvements in all the areas identified by the inspectors. An action plan is being drawn up to address the issues raised in the report and this process will be completed by mid-May.
“The board’s Curriculum Advisory and Support Service team will offer intensive curriculum and management support to the college staff and governors who are naturally disappointed with the findings.
“They have resolved to bring about real and speedy improvements in the interests of all the pupils. A meeting of parents could also take place shortly.”
A spokesman for the Department of Education said: “The department accepts the findings of the inspection report and has put the school into the formal intervention process as set out in the school improvement policy.”