North Yorkshire County Council has set out a changed role for Foremost School as a day special school for boys and girls with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD).
As part of a new county-wide behaviour strategy, which is being consulted on in the autumn, Foremost would play a pivotal role for the west of the county in supporting a number of children with BESD and by complementing other specialist provision in mainstream schools and pupil referral units.
The school opened two years ago as a residential special school for boys with BESD. This followed the the transfer of Baliol School from its previous location in Cumbria and the closure of Netherside Hall School..
The local authority has explored a number of options after the school was placed in special measures last year, including the management of the school by an independent provider. The subsequent procurement exercise failed to secure a provider of high enough quality.
The local authority is committed to maintaining Foremost School, which has faced some challenging times and believes it has an important role to play in a new and more coherent behaviour strategy.
The need for residential places in North Yorkshire for pupils with BESD is reducing, and the local authority sees a greater role for Foremost School in providing day provision only, from breakfast to evening meal and after school activities.
The strategic intention remains for pupils wherever possible to be educated in their local mainstream school, with specialist support where necessary. But a recent review of the county’s enhanced mainstream schools which provide this specialist support showed that there is a continued need for day special school places. This will better enable enhanced mainstream schools in the west of the county to focus on their key outreach support role.
The intention for each and every pupil admitted to Foremost School will be for a planned return to mainstream education as soon as pupils are prepared and ready and there will also be a greater emphasis on preparing older pupils for college or the world of work.
As part of the behaviour strategy, the school will over time have an additional role in providing local leadership of BESD provision across the west of the county to ensure that the identification and placement of pupils is joined up and well supported.
The governing body of the school fully support the initiative and are looking forward to building on the steady improvements noted by Ofsted in teaching, the behaviour of pupils and in leadership and management .
Under this new proposal, which will be decided on by the County Council Executive next week, leadership and management of the school is to be secured through the secondment of a principal adviser, for up to two years, from the local authority’s Education and Skills Service.
County Councillor Arthur Barker, North Yorkshire’s Executive member for Schools said: Our first priority, working with the new head teacher and governors, is to develop Foremost into a good school where we can guarantee that young people are well educated and prepared for life. The school has impressive facilities and is well placed to become the hub of BESD provision in the west of the county.