No inquiry by council into troubled Foremost School

NADV 1209036AM1 Foremost School. (1209036AM1)
NADV 1209036AM1 Foremost School. (1209036AM1)
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Nidderdale’s MP has said he is disappointed at the county council’s decision not to hold an inquiry into troubled Foremost School.

North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) said in a report it has ‘no plans for an inquiry at this stage’ and it ‘intends to concentrate its efforts on securing the future of the school at this stage’.

The MP for Skipton and Ripon, Julian Smith, said: “I am disappointed that there has been a decision against commissioning a report on Foremost School but I will continue to make the case to NYCC that being open about errors and frank about where improvements can be made is an essential responsibility for all public servants and allows others to learn for the future.”

The school for boys with emotional and behavioural issues has been plagued with problems since it opened in a former Naval site near Darley in 2012.

In December 2013, the council executive decided to seek an independent provider to take over the running of the school and held a public consultation.

Despite thee providers attending a ‘Discovery Day’ meeting at Foremost School, just one tender has been put forward.

The results of the public consultation have been published in a damning report which went before the council executive last week.

One neighbour said: “It is unbelievable that the education department of a council cannot find the right staff and expertise to run a school. This puts a bad light on the whole education system in the area.”

Menwith and Darley Parish Council said: “Foremost could have been a real jewel in the crown and an asset to the parish, whereas it has been more of an embarrassment.”

A pupil told the council: “The changes are causing disruption in the school. This is because people are worrying about what might happen when the school goes private.”

County Coun Arthur Barker, NYCC’s Executive Member for Schools, said: “The education and care needs of the children already in the school must be our priority throughout this process.

“Foremost is entering a more settled period and improving significantly and the whole purpose of the present undertaking is to ensure that improvement continues and is sustainable.

“We want secure and outstanding provision for these students, some of the most vulnerable young people in the county, and we are now giving very careful consideration to a plan to deliver such provision.”