Four 'inadequate' schools warned they face closure

Closure warning notices for four ‘inadequate’ schools have been published, with ineffective safeguarding, “dysfunctional” leadership and poor teaching among the concerns for officials.

Beechen Cliff School in Bath received a termination warning notice after being rated ‘inadequate’ in an inspection by Ofsted last month. Inspectors raised fears about safeguarding, the achievement of pupils in alternative provision, the standard of teaching and behaviour at the boys’ secondary school.

Ofsted warned that leaders at the school “have a poor understanding of how to keep pupils safe”, and highlighted a “recent racially aggravated safeguarding incident”, warning that leaders and governors “still do not appreciate its true gravity and little appears to have been learned.”

If follows reports that in January, three white pupils  tied a black pupil to a lamppost, whipped him and used extreme racist language, in a “mock slave auction”.

Lisa Mannall, the regional schools commissioner for the south-west, has now ordered the school to join a strong multi-academy trust, amid concerns that “both the academy’s governance and management, and educational standards, are unlikely to improve rapidly and sustainably without further intervention”.

In the letter, dated July 5 but published today, Mannall said she was “pleased” the school is being supported by the Midsomer Norton Schools Partnership, and said Beechen Cliff’s trustees should accept the trust’s offer to send a trustee to sit on the school’s board.

The school must also provide written representations and a post-Ofsted action plan to Mannall by July 27, when she will decide whether or not to close the school.

Landau Forte Academy Moorhead, a primary school in Derby, also faces closure if it doesn’t improve its fortunes. It was deemed ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures by Ofsted in June 2016, and has since had three monitoring inspections. The most recent, in March, warned that “leaders and managers are not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures”.

John Edwards, RSC for the East Midlands and Humber, wrote to the school on June 21 to express “concerns about the ability of the trust to deliver the required improvements in a rapid and sustained manner”.

The letter, which was published yesterday, raised particular concerns about weak teaching, and asked for any representations by July 12.

A termination warning for Kirkby College, a secondary school in Nottinghamshire, was also published yesterday following an Ofsted inspection in February which rated the school ‘inadequate’ and placed it in special measures.

As well as raising concerns about safeguarding, Ofsted was damning in its judgement of the “dysfunctional” leadership at the school, and inspectors warned that “relationships between leaders in the school and those who are responsible for governance have completely broken down”.

“Leaders do not understand the extent of the considerable weaknesses in the school. They are unable to demonstrate the capacity to bring about the urgently needed improvements.”

Edwards wrote in the letter, dated June 21, that he shares Ofsted’s concerns about whether the Kirby College Trust can delivered the required improvements, and asked for any written representations by July 12.

Last Friday, the DfE also published a closure warning sent to the Sandymoor Free School in Runcorn on June 22.

Ofsted judged the school to be ‘inadequate’ after a visit in February, and said that “the achievement of pupils in 2016 and 2017 was among the worst nationally. Pupils have left Sandymoor having significantly underachieved in many subjects.”

The letter from Vicky Beer, RSC for Lancashire and West Yorkshire, warned the school “has not adequately addressed concerns”.

However, Beer said she was “encouraged” to hear the board at Sandymoor agrees it would be better placed in a multi-academy trust, and said her team “will look for the best possible solution” and “consider a range of options to ensure the best possible outcome for students.”