Royal School for the Deaf Derby placed in special measures over safeguarding

The Royal School for the Deaf Derby has now been placed in special measures by Ofsted after it failed to put adequate safeguarding procedures in place following an earlier inspection.

A previous Ofsted social care inspection carried out in December 2014 judged the school inadequate overall. It said the principal’s failure to respond to staff concerns about safeguarding or child protection placed pupils at risk of potential grooming and child sexual exploitation.

The principal was suspended and Ofsted then carried out a “no notice” school inspection at the end of February following a complaint which raised “serious concerns”.

In its report published yesterday, Ofsted said the governing body of the school – which has 132 pupils including 39 boarders – is not meeting its statutory safeguarding requirements.

It said pupils are being put at risk because emergency safeguarding systems introduced by school leaders recently are “unsound and are not being followed as described”.

Responding to the report, clerk to the school’s governors Tony Quipp said: “In line with the report’s recommendations, a full review of the school’s leadership and governance is being conducted and the school will be assigned a former HMI inspector with leadership capacity and expertise to drive forward improvements.

“A strengthened governing body will be in place as soon as possible with the aim of addressing gaps identified by the inspectors in the experience, expertise and ability of the governing board. There will also be an appointment of an executive headteacher, which leaders, managers and staff welcome.”
The report said there was insufficient contact with families when pupils are absent, leaders’ risk assessments of the school site are poor and some health and safety arrangements are inadequate.

Information about pupils’ progress and achievement is not analysed precisely enough to know if they are making good enough progress.

Leaders do not have an accurate view of teaching and so actions to improve it have not had the intended impact.

Under interim leadership arrangements, key roles and responsibilities have gone to staff who do not always have the “required knowledge, experience, or time”.

Expectations of what pupils can achieve are not always high enough, and work is not always set at the right level of difficulty. As a result of this, they are not making the progress they should.

Pupils do not consistently get clear feedback on how to improve their work or always understand what their targets.

The school’s strengths include pupils who are “exceptionally well supported to develop communication skills”, good behaviour, quick identification of learning needs and careful monitoring of progress in the early years, pupils who are passionate about the school, and some effective middle leaders.

Acting principal Helen Shepherd said: “We have been overwhelmed by offers of support in the city and will be using the expertise of the schools improvement unit. We are also working closely with Derby City Safeguarding Children’s Board and other safeguarding and learning partners.”

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