Retiring Scarborough headteacher to leave two months early

Graham School headteacher Helen McEvoy will leave her role before half term after three years.
Graham School headteacher Helen McEvoy will leave her role before half term after three years.

A retiring Scarborough headteacher is to leave her role two months ahead of schedule to make way for a new leadership team.

With an Ofsted report due to be published imminently for the troubled school, Helen McEvoy will step down after three years at the helm at the end of this week to allow a new leadership team to take over at Graham School.

The 57-year-old said: “I am proud of my time at Graham School, of the students and of those colleagues who have been passionate and committed to the young people and their learning.

"I am proud of a long career in teaching and school leadership and I retire confident that I leave Graham School in good hands, with a strong and effective team.

"As the school moves forward I wish everyone concerned great success, especially the students who deserve no less.”

A team of experienced school leaders will be joining Graham School directly after half term to take the school forward for the foreseeable future.

Rob Pritchard, the The Yorkshire Teaching School Alliance lead for school to school support, will oversee Graham’s new leadership team.

Mr Pritchard is also Headteacher of St John Fisher Catholic High School in Harrogate, a National Leader of Education and an Ofsted inspector.

Rob will bring in a team of senior leaders after half term, including Paul Brockwell who will be Graham’s headteacher.

Colette Jones, who has extensive school leadership experience and Emma Lambden, deputy head at St John Fisher, will also be joining the school, along with other Alliance staff.

Mrs McEvoy was appointed headteacher of Graham School in January 2014 to turn the tides of the school after it was placed in special measures following an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating.

The Ofsted report, from December 2013, highlighted a number of key issues that needed addressing including attainment in maths and English as well as inadequate teaching leading to inadequate progress for students.

Scarborough’s largest school made “significant improvements” under Mrs McEvoy, according to Ofsted when they returned for an inspection in November 2015.

Although the school was given an overall effectiveness grade of ‘requires improvement’, inspectors found the leadership and management of the school was ‘good’.

The report stated: “The school is well led by a determined and resilient senior leadership team and a strong governing body. There is a palpable and positive change in the culture and ethos of the school as a result.”

Graham School was found to be below average in the performance league tables designed to measure pupils’ progress during their time at school last year.

The school’s Progress 8 score was -0.57 in 2016, compared to the national average of 0, while its Attainment 8 score fell short of national (48.5) and North Yorkshire (51.8) averages with a lowly 40.7.

Graham School announced it is to close the former Raincliffe School site in September due to a decline of pupils from 1,579 in 2010 to just 1,065 at present.

The Woodlands Drive school was visited again by Ofsted inspectors in January following complaints, which raised concerns about the leadership and management of pupils’ personal development, behaviour and welfare. While many pupils behaved well, “too often” their learning was interrupted by poor or disruptive behaviour, especially at the lower school, according to Ofsted inspector. Nick Whittaker.

“Governors have been working with the local authority to broker support from The Yorkshire Teaching School Alliance and we are now looking forward to working with Mr Pritchard and his team” said Honor Byford, Graham’s Chair of Governors.

“We are delighted to have been able to secure such strong and experienced leadership as the school develops during this period of transition.

"We would like to thank Mrs McEvoy for her service to Graham School and wish her well for her retirement."

Graham’s governing body will organise meetings for parents after half term to meet the new team and to share their plans for the school’s future.