Boarding school complains to ISI following unannounced inspection

CREDIT: This story was first seen in the Hereford Times

A boarding school has complained to its inspectorate body after an unannounced inspection found that they fell below the required standard in three areas, the Hereford Times reports.

The Independent Schools Inspectorate carried out the unannounced additional inspection at Lucton School in October following a request by the Department of Education.

However, the school’s headteacher and bursar were both absent on the day of the inspection.

Inspectors found that the school did not meet all the requirements in: safeguarding; the manner in which complaints were handled; and quality of leadership and management.

In welfare, health and safety- safeguarding the school was advised to: “Ensure that all staff understood the whistleblowing procedures, and that their understanding is checked, and are encouraged to identify any concerns freely; improve the recording of staff training in child protection to enable clear identification of who has been trained and when.”

Inspectors found that the school had an appropriate policy for safeguarding and procedures were in place to safeguard those children at risk and those in need.

The school met requirements for the written risk assessment policy. The boarding accommodation and suitability of staff also met the regulation.

The quality of education also met the regulation and the inspector commented that the school has an appropriate curriculum.

Provision of information to parents was also found to meet requirements.

However, the manner in which complaints are handled was also found to not meet the regulation standard.

The inspector said that the school had an appropriate policy but it was not implemented effectively with regard recording complaints.

“The log of complaints is unsystematic, with entries not in date order, with the dates complaints are received and the dates they are resolved missing in some cases, and some names of the complaint are absent or unclear,” said the inspector.

“Formal complaints are identified but no indication is given whether these proceed to a panel hearing. Records of the action taken, whether a complaint is upheld or not, are not sufficient, given the unsystematic recording of the log.”

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The school was advised to keep a comprehensive log of formal complaints and ensure the log records action taken by the school as a result of complaints.

Inspectors also found that the quality of leadership and management did not meet the regulation.

“In particular, communication between senior managers, governors and staff is not sufficiently effective to ensure that the safeguarding of pupils is ensured with regard to all elements of statutory guidance, although the school promotes the well-being of pupils overall,” concluded the inspector.

“In particular, staff are inhibited in making constructive suggestions regarding potential improvements to the welfare arrangements of the school.

The school was also told to ‘improve communication between governors, senior managers and all staff to ensure the knowledge and skills of all staff are focused without inhibition on safeguarding pupil’s welfare’.

In response spokesman for Lucton School, Paul Thorne said that following the findings a thorough action plan has been sent to the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

“There are many positives in the report, particularly regarding the quality of education, for instance the results of public examinations show attainment at levels expected for pupils’ abilities, or above these levels,” he said.

“Even so, it’s not an ideal report and I don’t think that parts are a fair reflection on the school. The headteacher and bursar were not there on the day and the two deputies had been in their post only three weeks. This certainly had a negative impact, with some wrong documents being presented and no-one really suitable to respond to issues raised.

“We have sent a positive action plan and we are looking forward.”

He added that staff have received further whistle blowing training and that School Governors had met with staff to discuss whistle blowing.

The school has also submitted a complaint to the ISI about the manner in which the unannounced inspection was carried out.

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