Fuming parents want say in school’s future

Parents of Calder High School students gathered at the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, to discuss how they could improve the school
Parents of Calder High School students gathered at the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, to discuss how they could improve the school

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 Hebden Bridge Trades Club to air their grievances at the current state of 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: pupils’ behaviour, teacher’s behaviour towards the students, a lack of communication from senior management at the school, the general misbehaviour - 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 said that she thought that the school’s headteacher Carol Spillane was inexperienced and questioned why she hadn’t been offered more support from Calderdale Council.

As a result of the meeting, chaired by Dave Boardman, parents decided to set up a steering group, with the aim of having more of a say on school policy.

One of the suggestions made was to have a consultation day at the school, where parents can raise their concerns directly to senior management.

The group will have its first meeting at The Trades Club on Wednesday, 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, split into key stage groups, will be held with parents at the school from Monday, April 30, to Friday, May 4.

However, if parents are not happy with the outcome of the action, Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker has offered to step in.

Mr Whittaker said: “If the local authority doesn’t sort this quickly, along with the school and the head teacher - and if it is the will of the people connected with Calder High School, then I would without question intervene and take their concerns to Michael Gove - the Education Minister.”