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Caldicot comprehensive school issued with official warning notice by council

Caldicot School (Pic: LDRS)

A TROUBLED comprehensive school has been issued with an official warning notice for shortcomings in how it provides for pupils with additional learning needs. 

The letter came to light during a council meeting on Tuesday, May 14 – which “frustrated” the senior officer in charge of education in Monmouthshire who blasted a councillor for revealing the “confidential” letter in a public meeting. 

Councillors had been discussing an internal review of the council’s Specialist Resource Bases (SRB) – which are based in two of Monmouthshire’s secondary schools and three primaries – and provide education for pupils with additional learning needs including complex needs and effectively act as special schools for the county. 

The report listed examples of good practice but also a “lack of consistency across SRB settings in terms there being an equal ‘offer’ across the county”. However id didn’t highlight any particular failings at any identified school. 

But councillor Paul Pavia, during routine question at the committee meeting, revealed Caldicot Comprehensive had been issued with a warning letter by the county council which funds the resource bases and allocates places, though the bases are intended to be a part of the mainstream school. 

The Conservative said he understood Caldicot had been issued with the warning letter last month around the council’s “growing concerns” at the provision for pupils in the resource base and the quality of the additional learning needs provision and that the headteacher and governing body were “failing to provide strategic leadership”. 

Paul Pavia is the Welsh Conservative councillor for Chepstow Mount Pleasant ward on Monmouthshire County Council (Pic: MCC)

The Chepstow Mount Pleasant member asked: “Given where the review ended is this something that’s just emerged in the last year or something that developed over a longer period?” 

Will McLean, the council’s chief officer for children and young people, hit out at the councillor for making the letter public. 

Mr McLean said: “The letter remained confidential between myself and the governing body at Caldicot School is now helpfully being played out in this setting now.” 

The officer said he would need to understand why the letter is now in the public domain but he said it represented the “degree of concern” the authority has and that it, and the Gwent Educational Achievement Service, is working with the school to address them. 

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He said he’d met with the governing body last night and the council is working with the school to address the issues and it would “reach the point where it would sign off and the warning notice falls away.” 

Cllr Pavia said he’d had “some reassurance” there is support in place for the school and the council was doing so “quite robustly.” 

Teachers at Caldicot School staged a series of strikes during the autumn terms as they claimed its leadership had failed to tackle their concerns about pupil behaviour and both verbal and physical abuse towards teachers. 

A fourth day of planned strike action in November was called off by the two teaching unions and Monmouthshire council said at the time “positive dialogue had been established between the governing body and the trade unions”.