'Constant state of chaos' - Hastings school gets ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating

Inspectors visited The Flagship School, in The Ridge, Hastings, on March 16 and 17. The state-funded special education school was given an overall rating of ‘inadequate’ with the report scoring the lowest rating for the four categories of quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and leadership and management.Inspectors visited The Flagship School, in The Ridge, Hastings, on March 16 and 17. The state-funded special education school was given an overall rating of ‘inadequate’ with the report scoring the lowest rating for the four categories of quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and leadership and management.
Inspectors visited The Flagship School, in The Ridge, Hastings, on March 16 and 17. The state-funded special education school was given an overall rating of ‘inadequate’ with the report scoring the lowest rating for the four categories of quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and leadership and management.
A Hastings school has been rated as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors.

Inspectors visited The Flagship School, in The Ridge, Hastings, on March 16 and 17.

The state-funded special education school was given an overall rating of ‘inadequate’ with the report scoring the lowest rating for the four categories of quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and leadership and management.

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In their report, Ofsted inspectors said: “While some pupils enjoy coming to school, others do not. Equally, some parents and carers are positive about the school, but others are not. They do not feel that their children are safe in school.”

Inspectors praised staff for their desire to create a nurturing environment and their dedication to the pupils. However, the report said: “Too often, the behaviour of pupils is unsafe, disrespectful and disruptive.”

Expectations of what pupils can achieve and of their engagement in learning was not high enough, said inspectors.

The report said: "Some pupils are desperate to learn, but staff do not have the strategies or procedures in place to deal effectively with poor behaviour. This results in what is often a chaotic environment in which some pupils feel bullied and threatened, and leaders are constantly addressing problems and concerns.”

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Trustees of the school, which opened in September 2021, are aware of the issues but have failed to act effectively, said the report.

It added: “They told inspectors that they knew there were problems with some aspects of safeguarding, but were not aware of how serious the situation really was.”

The school’s programme to teach pupils to read was ‘muddled’ and a ‘sizeable minority’ of pupils do not attend school at all.

It said: “Classroom visits on both days showed the school to be in a constant state of chaos. When pupils do want to learn, their chances are severely restricted by the actions of other pupils.”

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Concerns were raised about safety. The report said: “Trustees’ oversight of safeguarding is not strong enough. Although staff work hard to ensure that pupils are safe, the school is not a safe environment. There are too few staff to ensure that pupils are supervised safely at all times.”

It added: “Safeguarding is not effective because leaders have not provided staff with clear strategies to keep pupils physically safe in the school. Staff are too stretched when serious incidents occur. Not enough are available to supervise pupils safely and effectively on a day-to-day basis.

"The current behaviour policy is not working. Leaders and trustees need to rethink all aspects of how staff manage behaviour to reduce serious incidents, such as pupils threatening and attacking other pupils, or the constant damage to the fabric of the building.”

The school is also not doing enough to tackle low attendance in some pupils, according to the report.

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In response to the report, trustees of the school have appointed The Beckmead Trust, a behaviour-based education provider, to support staff implement rapid improvement.

Dr Jonty Clark, the trust’s chief executive officer, said: “While school improvement takes time, we believe we are already having a positive impact to help make sure that the children and young people at the academy receive the very best education and care, and are kept safe, which is of course our top priority.”

A spokesperson for East Sussex County Council said: “We are committed to ensuring that all children attending The Flagship School are able to learn in a safe environment that meets their special educational needs.

“We are pleased to be working with both the Beckmead Trust and the newly appointed Trustees of the school to deliver the necessary improvements following the Ofsted inspection, working with committed staff and parents at the school.”

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The Flagship School principal Stephanie Salter added: “Our vision was always to create a specialist centre of excellence where children with these complex needs could be nurtured and could thrive. That determination remains and while we are extremely disappointed, no-one involved in this very special project is disheartened or discouraged.”