A SCHOOL has been given the lowest possible Ofsted rating 12 months after moving into a £24million Government-funded new building.

Troubled Darwen Vale High School, which saw staff go on strike over leadership issues two years ago, was given an ‘inadequate’ rating by inspectors.

It has just come to the end of its first year at its rebuilt Blackburn Road building, funded through the Building Schools for the Future scheme.

The school, which moved back to its original home after two years at the former Darwen Moorland High School site in Holden Fold, attracts children from across Darwen and Lower Darwen as well as parts of Blackburn including Fernhurst and Ewood.

The council’s education chief labelled it a ‘slap in the face’ for staff and pupils at the school.

Although disappointed with the outcome, headteacher Fiona Jack, who has been in post since January 2012, said the report indicated noticeable improvements.

She said: “We are disappointed with the overall judgement but the Ofsted inspection hasn’t told us anything we didn’t already know and has highlighted many areas of strengths.

“Unfortunately, the school’s recent history, which culminated in a disappointing set of exam results overall for last year’s Year 11, is what Ofsted based much of their judgement on.

“We knew that if inspectors came before the summer it was always going to be an uphill battle.

“But we know, and Ofsted acknowledged, that our GCSE results are set to improve significantly this summer so I look forward to celebrating that as the next step in our improvement journey.”

The inspection took place on June 12 and 13 and 38 lessons involving 38 different teachers were inspected, as well as meetings held with governers and school management.

The inspection rated the ‘achievement of pupils’ and ‘quality of teaching’ as ‘inadequate’ and ‘behaviour and safety of pupils’ and ‘leadership and management’ as ‘requires improvement’.

In April 2011, staff at the school went on strike to protest against the management’s failure to support staff in dealing with challenging pupil behaviour.

Then headteacher Hilary Torpey was suspended on full pay in the May and she resigned in September. Mrs Jack took the reins the following January.

The former PE and English teacher in London had worked in St Helens and Macclesfield before becoming assistant headteacher at Smithills School, Bolton, and was deputy headteacher at North Chadderton High School in Oldham before making the step up to headteacher in Darwen.

Coun Dave Harling, executive member for schools and education, said: “I am disappointed that Ofsted has not recognised the obvious progress that has been made at Darwen Vale recently.

“The staff and pupils must feel like this is a slap in the face and against all that they have worked so hard to achieve. I look forward to working with the head and the school in their continued improvements and in their brand new school buildings.”

The report did make some positive comments. It said ‘the headteacher successfully motivates the staff. They share her drive and ambition to quickly improve the school’.

It went on: “The school is improving, as is students’ progress. There are more examples of outstanding and good teaching.

“Students are proud of their school and feel safe.”