Ramsden Hall Academy

Article by Charles Thomson: A Billericay special school is failing to comply with ’national minimum standards’ for safety and child protection, Ofsted inspectors have said.

Ramsden Hall Academy, in Heath Road, was told it was failing to meet the minimum standards in seven separate areas. The academy was given the second-worst possible mark – ’requires improvement’ – in every single inspection criteria.

They included ’effectiveness of leadership and management’, ’quality of teaching, learning and assessment’ and ’outcomes for pupils’.

Ofsted inspected the academy on March 4 and 5, and reported last week that academic achievement in four year groups was ’not good enough’, while attendance was ’well below national levels’. Inspectors wrote that some pupils ’freely’ used ’highly derogatory language’, which was ’accepted as the norm’.

Parents’ views of the academy were ’very mixed’ and governors ’did not effectively monitor’ the impact of funding on disadvantaged pupils’ attendance or achievement. Inspectors added:

“The quality of education, behaviour and residential provision are too varied.”

The academy has 97 pupils – 17 of whom live on site – all with ’social, emotional and mental health difficulties’.

Ofsted said many pupils had ’additional special educational needs’ including autism, ADHD and communication difficulties. The academy is sponsored by the Parallel Learning Trust, which has seven special schools.

Inspectors said the school was failing to meet a minimum standard of ensuring accommodation for boarders was ’appropriately lit, heated and ventilated, cleaned and maintained’ and adapted for people with disabilities.

They were also failing to meet the minimum standard of ’ensuring that the welfare of pupils at the school is safeguarded and promoted’ by having and enforcing an effective risk assessment policy.

Other minimum standards not being met included fire safety, ’staff supervision, training and support’ and proper monitoring by independent visitors.

Inspectors said the academy was already ’working rapidly to improve the provision’, writing:

“The headteacher and her team are dedicated to providing pupils with the best opportunities.”

The report continued:

“This inspection identified several national minimum standards that are unmet. While these weaknesses exist, leaders and the new manager have an awareness of the need to improve and have identified most of these issues themselves. Where they have identified these, they have plans in place to address them.”

Inspectors added:

“A new manager has recently started managing the residential provision. New and urgent improvements have been made to the provision within a short amount of time. However, there are still several unmet standards within the residential provision and the positive impact of these changes has not been realised.”

When asked to comment by the YA, an academy spokesperson said:

“The message from our headteacher is that, with regard to whatever you’re running, there’s no involvement from the school or no further comment.”

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