Primary school placed in special measures by Ofsted

A school has been placed in special measures after 'failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education'.

Southgate Primary School has been placed in special measures

Southgate Primary, in Barrington Road, underwent a two-day inspection at the end of September and the findings were published on Monday (November 28).

A team of inspectors, led by Mark Cole rated the school ‘inadequate’ in three of the five categories, and ‘requires improvement’ in two others.

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One of the latter was teaching, which was found to be inconsistent. Inspectors said not enough children made good progress, while their progress in reading, writing and maths varied between classes and year groups.

One area in which the inconsistencies were highlighted was reading, where younger pupils read appropriate texts but older ones could not always access the wide range they needed.

When it came to the safeguarding of the children, inspectors said neither school leaders nor governors “understand or meet their statutory responsibilities” to keep pupils safe.

Mr Cole’s report stated: “Pupils are not safe because leaders do not ensure that statutory requirements for safeguarding pupils are met.”

In addition, the inspectors said governors did not have “an accurate view of how effective the school is”, adding they relied too heavily on information provided by school leaders rather than publicly available information about Southgate Primary’s progress.

As such they did not challenge headteacher Tom O’Donoghue and his leadership team.

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said “swift action” had been taken by the school and the council following the inspection.

She added: “The county council has worked with the school to put in place an action plan to ensure that the school is appropriately supported and progress will be closely monitored over the next two school terms.

“The report identified some serious challenges for the school to address as a matter of urgency including safeguarding systems and practices and the governance of the school.

“Because of these and other concerns, Ofsted decided to place the school in special measures, which means additional support will be provided to help the school improve.”

While providing an extensive list of necessary improvements, Ofsted highlighted a number of strengths at the school. The curriculum was described as “broad and balanced”, while the children were seen to be “polite and courteous”. Pupils said they felt safe at school, and the relationship between them and the staff was “warm and positive”.

The spokesman added: “The focus for the school and the county council now is to ensure that children receive the very best education. Robust action has been taken and will continue to be taken to achieve this and to ensure that the issues identified have been fully addressed.”

The measures taken so far included the appointment of an Interim Executive Board to replace the governing body and oversee the running of the school; a review of safeguarding procedures by an independent local authority expert, which has led to key improvements; and updated safeguarding training for all staff.

The spokesman said a two-day external audit would be held to ensure improvements were “embedded across the school”.

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