OFSTED inspectors have recommended immediate action at a Hampshire school in the wake of a damning report into failures to protect a vulnerable teenager.
They visited the Stanbridge Earls School, in Romsey, after being asked to undertake an emergency inspection by the Department of Education.
As previously reported, a report by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal found that the school had discriminated against her and accused head teacher Peter Trythall of a “failure of responsibility”.
The school was criticised for being “unsystematic, unprofessional, ad hoc and completely inadequate” when it came to protecting a female pupil.
Inspectors, who visited at the end of January, have now found that the school is failing to meet five national minimum standards, including child protection, leadership and management, staff recruitment and checks on other adults and monitoring by independent visitors.
They concluded communication and assessment systems had not evolved at the necessary speed and although staff met regularly there was “an over reliance on informal discussion and little formal care planning”.
The report added: “Individual case files lack any coherent structure, they are mainly used to store records of email discussion and they do not support staff to effectively plan and monitor the care provided to children and young people.”
The report said that the school did not use individual placement plans to identify individual children's needs, or to specify how the school will care for each child day to day.
It said the school did not undertake individual risk assessments even in cases where the risk of harm that a child poses to others or themselves is known to be high.
It said: “In these cases there is an over reliance on discussion with parents and young people in which boundaries are simply reaffirmed or extended.”
And although the school has in the past sought guidance from external agencies like the police, the school had not evaluated the guidance and assessed it against what they know about the child to decide the risk that that child may pose to others.Inspectors said although child protection and safeguarding polices were in place and reviewed on an annual basis and are known and understood by staff, these polices did not identify that children may pose a risk to one another and therefore do not support or inform staff fully.
“Where there have been incidents between children that are a cause for concern, records do not confirm that these have always been considered under the child protection framework,” it added.
It also found that some staff had recently started working at the school prior to receiving a CRB.
Although inspectors said the school recognised these shortfalls and were taking action, these new initiatives have not been fully implement so their effect so far was limited.
The school has previously said that it has drawn up an action plan to address the concerns raised by the initial report.
Tony Knight, chairman of the trustees, said previously: “The tribunal's requirements will be met as a matter of urgency, and independent advisers will be engaged to ensure the process of reform is transparent and benefits from a wide range of expertise.
“While the school has consistently been highly rated for its standards of education and safeguarding, this episode - a highly regrettable and unique case which does not reflect the way the school normally meets the needs of its pupils - shows there is always more that can be done.”
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