A damning Ofsted report has branded a crisis-hit academy as “dysfunctional and unsafe” – revealing “verbal abuse of staff is common with some physically assaulted”.
The special measures monitoring report into St Aldhelm’s Academy, in Poole, Dorset – which lost £1.2m after being targeted by a fraud scam in 2013 – was published today.
The worrying list of concerns flagged by inspectors, who visited on February 6 for a no-notice inspection, included the rapid deterioration in students’ behaviour.
It revealed pupils “caused havoc” by running around the corridors during lessons and they leave lessons to go for cigarettes.
Leaders have failed to tackle the academy’s serious shortcomings, morale is low and students’ life chances are being inhibited by inadequate teaching, inspectors added.
The report read: “St Aldhelm’s Academy is dysfunctional and unsafe.
“Leaders have failed to tackle the areas identified as requiring improvement when the academy was placed into special measures in October 2014. Little evidence of any improvement exists.”
It added: “The academy is experiencing a time of considerable turmoil… During this visit, the academy was only open to Year 11 students due to the academy being unable to ensure the safety of students and staff. The interim Principal was not at the academy during this visit.”
Ofsted has ordered the regional schools commissioner, academy leaders and the local authority to intervene to restore the safe running of the academy.
Since the inspection, the Ambitions Academies Trust has agreed to take over, subject to due diligence being finalised by the DfE.
The Bournemouth-based trust appointed Sian Thomas, executive head of Tregonwell Academy, to take over as principal on Monday. The Trust have been contacted for comment.
The Diocese of Salisbury will remain as a sponsor until the process is completed. Schools Week was told the diocese no longer comments on matters regarding St Aldhelm’s Academy.
It follows a series of issues at St Aldhelm’s including a part closure due to staff shortages, poor exam results and the academy’s board, the St Aldhelm’s Academy Trust, being issued with a financial notice to improve.
In October, an Ofsted inspection resulted in the school going into special measures. The report said that “until recently, the governing body and school leaders at all levels have not demonstrated the capacity to raise standards”.