A school rapped by Ofsted over the “well-established” off-rolling of pupils has been warned it could be moved to a different sponsor.
Ormiston Academies Trust has been issued with a termination warning notice in respect of Ormiston Denes Academy in Suffolk.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Ofsted had placed the school in special measures after inspectors found leaders had “failed to pay due regard to the achievement, welfare and safety of a small but significant number of pupils”.
Inspectors noted some pupils who attended the Suffolk Pupil Referral Unit remained dual registered at both the school and the PRU in key stage three and in Year 10. However, the report said the decision to remove these pupils from the school’s roll at the start of Year 11 “was taken in the best interests of the school rather than of the pupils”.
“This constitutes ‘off-rolling’ according to Ofsted’s definition. This process is well-established at the school,” the report said, adding that the lead inspector had confirmed with the local authority that the school was “following local practice rather than statutory guidance”.
In the notice issued on October 2 but only published today, regional schools commissioner Sue Baldwin raised concerns about Ofsted’s findings, particularly about pupil safeguarding, persistent absence and the school’s “misuse of attendance reporting”.
Under the terms of a termination warning notice, trusts have to provide the government with information about how they plan to rectify problems. If RSCs are not satisfied, they can terminate a school’s funding agreement and rebroker it to another sponsor.
A spokesperson for Ormiston said: “We have taken exceptionally seriously the areas of concern in the Ofsted report and we are extremely disappointed that they occurred.
“We have appointed a very experienced principal and have given the RSC clear assurances that there will be no repetition of these unacceptable practices and that it was an isolated incident. We have also shared our action plan to ensure the school’s improvement and are pleased that it is making good progress under the new principal.”
Schools warned over physical restraint, missing pupils and low standards
The government has also published termination warning notices issued recently to three other schools, all of which have been placed in special measures by Ofsted.
The London Enterprise Academy was criticised by inspectors for failing to carry out adequate vetting on staff, and for being unable to account for the whereabouts of all their pupils.
“Leaders gave contradictory accounts of the numbers of pupils in alternative provision and at home, and the reasons for them being there,” Ofsted warned, adding that newly-qualified teachers should not be appointed to the school.
At the Fen Rivers Academy, Ofsted found pupil behaviour was “not managed consistently well” and said physical restraint was used too often.
“There are too many incidents that result in staff using high-level restrictive physical intervention. So far in this first year, there have been 458 occurrences of physical restraint, with 50 per cent of these resulting in pupils being detained in a ‘calm room’.
“Leaders do not evaluate or analyse the use of physical restraint well enough. They cannot show how they are preventing this high level of intervention from reoccurring.”
Finally, Wayland Junior Academy Watton was also urged by inspectors not to recruit NQTs, after they found that the local governing board and sponsoring trust “do not challenge leaders sufficiently to stem the continued decline in standards”.
“Pupils’ work in books is untidy and contains frequent errors, particularly in spelling, punctuation and grammar. These errors are rarely highlighted by teachers and therefore mistakes continue to be made.
“Low expectations are common. Pupils are content to present teachers with poor-quality work because teachers do not insist on high standards.”