Ysgol Y Deri is the new amalgamated special school at the Penarth Learning Centre. "Ty Deri" is its associated residential unit.

Up to one in five of all the staff at the brand new special school Ysgol y Deri have been “off sick” since it opened. The school is part of the campus of  Penarth Learning Centre. “Ty Deri” is its associated residential unit.

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.

Peter Watkin Jones has conducted a probe into what's going wrong at Ysgol y Deri

Peter Watkin Jones has conducted a probe into what’s going wrong at Ysgol y Deri

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:

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 .

Ysgol y Deri is situated on the same campus as St Cyres School on Sully Road, Penarth

Ysgol y Deri is situated on the same campus as St Cyres School on Sully Road, Penarth

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.

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  1. urbaninja says:

    The statistic means that there has been at least one day where up to 20% of people have been ill. Clearly if that is consistently the proportion of people off sick then that’s terrible, but basing your stats on one datapoint out of ~240 working days, especially when sickness is seasonal and tends to cluster, is just bad. Tell us the average proportion of sickness per day across a whole year.

    • newsnet says:

      BBC Wales News – to whom the report was leaked – reported that “BBC Wales understands that the school has experienced high levels of sickness absence, with up to a fifth of the 230-strong workforce at the school being off sick at any one time since it opened.Sources also flagged issues over confusion surrounding leadership, and a lack of consistency for pupils due to sickness levels.A council spokesperson confirmed levels of sickness at the school were higher than at other schools in the county.”

      • urbaninja says:

        That’s just what it said in the article rephrased slightly. It means exactly what I just said

  2. AK says:

    This is a school for children with special needs, in some case profound special needs, where catching an infection could be fatal.
    Therefore if a member of staff is likely to put the children at risk of infection, then it is absolutely correct that the staff are off.
    This could be someone with a stomach upset, coughs and sneezes with which otherwise we would soldier on and go to work.

  3. Fishhenge says:

    And what about the “all weather pitch” at the comprehensive site of this £40 million marvel? It has been flooded since Christmas and is likely to be out of commission for some time, apparently whilst the pitch is relaid, so is unavailable not only to the schoolchildren but also the hundreds of people that used to use it in the evening. Good old Vale Council!

    • AK says:

      I’m fairly sure that the pitch was not actually laid by the Vale of Glamorgan Council, but by the contractors who built the school or their sub contractor.

      Contractors manual for all weather pitch, page 1 reads:

      Ensure pitch is suitably drained and sited for all weather use

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