A special school for children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties has taken on a new name and is preparing for a fresh start.
Forest Moor School, formerly known as Foremost, is getting ready for a new intake of children in November.
Forest Moor, near Harrogate, has been turned from a boarding school to a day school for girls as well as boys and from November will take in younger pupils and introduce a new curriculum and a new uniform.
Head teacher Simon Ashby, who was the local authority’s lead education adviser to the school for 18 months, took up his post in September. The new name, he says, is a “small but important statement” and represents a new style and structure for the school.
Forest Moor opened two years ago as a residential special school for boys with BESD aged 11-16 in the west of the county. Although the school has faced challenging times the local authority is committed to maintaining Forest Moor School and believes it has an important role to play in a new and more coherent behaviour strategy.
The local authority has explored a number of options after the school was placed in special measures last year. As part of a new county-wide behaviour strategy, which is being consulted on in the autumn, Forest Moor would play a pivotal role in supporting a number of younger children with BESD and by complementing other specialist provision in mainstream schools and pupil referral units.
The need for residential places in North Yorkshire for pupils with BESD is reducing, and the local authority sees a greater role for Forest Moor in providing day provision only; but longer day provision, from breakfast through 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.
The intention for each and every pupil admitted to Forest Moor 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.
The governing body of Forest Moor fully endorses this initiative and will take the school forward. It will build on the steady improvements noted by Ofsted in teaching, the behaviour of pupils and in leadership and management .
Simon Ashby said: We believe this is a necessary way forward for the school.
Forest Moor will play an important role in supporting some of our more challenging and vulnerable children to get back on the right track. We are very much looking forward to our first intake of children in November and a positive future.
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 Forest Moor 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.