EDUCATION bosses last night vowed to turn around a failing secondary school after an Ofsted report revealed serious problems with safeguarding, bullying and pupils’ behaviour.

Northallerton School and Sixth Form College was judged inadequate in all areas and has been placed in special measures.

Inspectors said it must improve safeguarding procedures “as a matter of urgency”.

North Yorkshire County Council put in place a recovery plan for the school at the end of last year and completely overhauled its leadership and governing body, placing interim headteachers and chair of governors in charge of a new team.

But days after they started, Ofsted inspectors visited and in a report published this week, failed the school in all five areas of investigation.

In a damning report, inspectors noted: “Too often, pupils’ learning is interrupted by poor or disruptive behaviour. Behaviour incidents and incidents of bullying are not followed up consistently well by senior leaders.

“Pupils and parents and carers lack confidence in the school’s response to the concerns they raise.”

The inspectors found that programmes for students aged 16 to 19 were inadequate because the school’s “safeguarding arrangements are ineffective” and said there had been a “marked decline” in the quality of education at the school.

The report added: “This is because there are fundamental weaknesses in the school’s leadership, management and governance.”

The principal of Caedmon College, in Whitby, Keith Prytherch, who was brought in at the beginning of this year to oversee the school for two terms, said last night: “We have lost no time in putting in place a plan to make the school a place where all children feel safe to learn and to make all teaching much stronger.

“As a new team, we have brought in a new behaviour and consequences system and created consistency in classrooms; we have strengthened safeguarding and the routines of the school; we are cracking down on bullying and poor behaviour. Already our school is calmer, lessons more engaging and students more focused on their learning.”

His predecessor, Chris Byrne stepped down in December following 32 years as a teacher and school leader in Northallerton. Chairman of governors Robert Barker retired at the same time, after 20 years as a governor.

As well as Mr Prytherch, the county council has brought in an interim chair of governors Paul Bartlett – a trustee of The Arete Learning Trust – and introduced an interim executive board to replace the school’s governing body.

Mr Bartlett said: “We fully recognise the weaknesses of the school highlighted in the Ofsted report. We also recognise that this is a school with great potential and already, as we embark on this rapid improvement plan, as we revitalise the governance and hold leadership to account, we can see changes for the better and we are optimistic about a bright future.”

Parents had been raising concerns for months with the school before the leadership changes were made. One said she was “very concerned” about behaviour just before Christmas but was “fobbed off” when she made complaints.

She said: “I contacted the school about the appalling behaviour and the impact it was having on my daughter’s learning several times, but I was told not to worry about her as she was bright and they had to help the problem children.

“Behaviour is a massive problem in the school and the way it is dealt with.

“I am pleased with the new head and what he has done in a short space of time but I have concerns as to what will happen when he leaves in the summer.”

Northallerton’s mayor, Cllr John Forrest described the report as “very disappointing”. He added: “In the past it has been such a highly rated school and sixth form.”

The school is now due to become an academy and a local sponsor is being sought. There will be meetings in the school later this month for parents.