REPORTS of improvement are emerging about a Barry school where teachers were said to be locking themselves in classrooms out of fear for their and other pupils’ safety.

Whitmore High School headteacher Innes Robinson took over as executive headteacher at trouble-hit Pencoedtre High School in February after Debra Thomas stepped down.

Pencoedtre is one of two Vale of Glamorgan schools currently in special measures – having been placed there by Estyn following inspections in 2022.

Teachers and staff at the school went on strike this January over what they said was the poor behaviour of some pupils there, with one union saying some staff were at the “end of their tether”.

Head of standards and provision at Vale of Glamorgan Council, Morwen Hudson, said she has “absolute confidence” in the abilities of Mr Robinson and the new assistant headteacher who has been appointed to work alongside him.

Speaking at a Vale of Glamorgan Council learning and culture scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday, April 11, Ms Hudson said: “Already I have had feedback only this week… a couple of colleagues from across the council who have been into school and have found it such a calm atmosphere [there].”

Later, when asked by scrutiny committee member Cllr Emma Goodjohn what new measures are being taken to improve the school, Ms Hudson said a lot is being done to build better relationships with staff, pupils, unions and families.

She added: “Pencoedtre High School was slow in taking up the offer of support from us as a local authority, but they are now there and that is developing. I believe relationships will be at the forefront of taking things forward.”

Barry And District News: Pencoedtre High was put into 'special measures' in 2022Pencoedtre High was put into 'special measures' in 2022 (Image: Newsquest)

Barry And District News: Teachers at the school went on strike at the start of the year over fears for their safetyTeachers at the school went on strike at the start of the year over fears for their safety (Image: Newsquest)

Principal improvement partner for Vale of Glamorgan Council schools at Central South Consortium Joint Education Service, Carys Pritchard, said building morale and “making people feel that they are part of finding the solutions to problems” is also being employed at Pencoedtre.

As well as a new assistant headteacher, additional support staff have been employed and six youth workers are present to assist at various times of the day.

Ms Pritchard added: “There is a clear short-term and long-term road back for the school.”

Another member of the scrutiny committee, Cllr Russell Godfrey, called signs of progress at the school “fantastic news”.

However, he raised concerns about there being no official staff room there.

He added: “I was astounded to hear… that there was no provision for a staff room and I would have thought that that was an essential part of any school… where staff can share a bit of private time away from the pupils.”

Barry And District News: New head teacher Innes Robinson is said to be turning things around at the beleaguered schoolNew head teacher Innes Robinson is said to be turning things around at the beleaguered school (Image: Supplied)

Read more on Pencoedtre High:

Earlier this year, representatives from National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers called Pencoedtre High School unfit for purpose, referencing its open design and issues with its schools successful futures centre (SFC).

Some staff said the location of the SFC at the £33m school building allowed large groups of children to mix and that this caused behavioural problems.

In an interview in February, Mr Robinson called the Pencoedtre High School building “superb”and “exactly what you would want for your child”.

He said a staff room would not suddenly change the culture of the school, adding: “What changes the culture is feeling valued and feeling that when you are successful that you are recognised by the senior leadership team.”

Pencoedtre High School will be visited and monitored by Estyn on a termly basis.

Parents, pupils, teachers, is it getting better at Pencoedtre? What changes have you seen? Has the new head made an impact? 

Let us know, emailing