More awkward questions have been raised about the 15-month-old special school “Ysgol y Deri “ which is part of the £49,000,000 ‘Penarth Learning Community” on Sully Road, Penarth.
The school – which incorporates a residential unit – was established from the merger of three former local schools – Maes Dyfan, Ysgol Erw’r Delyn and Ashgrove School, Penarth – all of which dealt with pupils with special needs. There are 240 pupils on the roll.
On January 7th 2014 PDN reported that the very first inspection carried out at the new school’s residential unit – “Ty Deri” – by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) had revealed a number of shortcomings in the institution – not least that there was “little involvement” by the school governors. (See PDN report: http://tinyurl.com/znvzur2).
Now BBC Wales News has reported that “Concerns over working practices” at the school have triggered an independent review of the institution by Peter Watkin Jones who carried out the high-profile inquiry into mortality rates at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
The BBC sources say there are “issues over staff sickness-levels and low morale” at Ysgol Y Deri . The sickness situation is so bad that at any one time up to 20% of the 230 staff at the school have been off sick .
Yet again there have been allegations of “confusion over leadership” and a “lack of consistency” in the care of pupils . These are allegations which echo those already made by the care watchdog – the CSSIW – which pulled no punches earlier this month about the way the residential unit is run .
The headmaster of the school is Christopher Britten who was formerly a primary school teacher in Albert Road School, Penarth.
The school governors – who have already come under criticism in the CSSIW report – are now quoted as saying work is “starting immediately” to establish “a new and more effective way of working”.
Responding to the review, the school’s chair of governors, Tim Exell said: “The health and wellbeing of pupils at Ysgol Y Deri is looked after by a range of school, council and health board staff. The review highlights the challenges we have faced in bringing together a multidisciplinary team that had previously made up the workforce of three separate special schools.”
Members of the Ysgol y Deri Governing Body are listed by the school as :- Cllr Richard Bertin, Mr Christopher Britten Executive Headteacher, Dr Allan Cosslett, Mr Tim Exell (chair) , Mrs Gail George, Mrs Claire Gould, Mrs Nadine Honeybone, Mr David Jackson ,Mrs Claire James, Mr Bob Macey, Mr Sayeed Mathath, Mr Graeme Morley, Mrs Jenny Robbins (Vice Chair) , Mr Glyn Roberts , Mrs Emma Seekings, Mrs Karen Williams, Ms Micaela Wilson and Mr Simon Wilson.