Kisimul school care home ‘seriously failed’ to protect vulnerable children

Inspectors found “serious and widespread failures” at a school care home near Lincoln which meant the 55 vulnerable children living there were not protected and safeguarded.

Ofsted produced a scathing report and ruled that the Kisimul overnight boarding home in Swinderby is ‘Inadequate’ at protecting children and for the effectiveness of management.

The report, which was published on July 12, also said that the Swinderby home’s failures were serious and widespread.

Screenshot of the summary findings in the report, which rate the facility as ‘Inadequate’

Inspectors flagged up safeguarding shortfalls and a lack of trust in management. Inspectors wrote in the report:

“The information shared by the police confirms that some children have been mistreated by staff since the last inspection. Management were not aware the mistreatment of children was taking place.”

They did not elaborate on the nature of the children’s treatment.

They acknowledged that suspensions and the temporary rehoming of some of children had a significant impact, but that measures were taken to reintroduce them smoothly. They added that the delivery of day-to-day care was being met.

It comes just days after Lincolnshire Police concluded its own investigation of safeguarding concerns, stating there would be no criminal charges.

Amid the investigation, 12 members of staff were considered suspects and they all remain suspended to this day.

Ofsted initially suspended the registration of the children’s boarding home in October 2018.

All children boarding at the site were temporarily moved home or to alternative accommodation at the time.

The suspension was lifted in January 2019 meaning the care home could admit children again, but Ofsted put a number of sanctions in place.

Staff members reported having no confidence in care home manager Martyn Jackson’s ability and willingness to respond to safeguarding concerns.

Worrying reports emerged from Ofsted’s investigation where staff said about the manager: “I don’t trust them. I don’t think he likes me.” Another said: “Staff are down, demoralised, scared and worried not to say anything.”

Other comments were made indicating: “Management think they are untouchable,” “Change needs to come from the top of the management structure to become an effective process. I don’t believe that they have learned from anything that has happened.”

A spokesperson for Kisimul told The Lincolnite that they were disappointed by the outcome of Ofsted’s report. They said: “Our focus is on providing the highest quality care and support for all the children we work with.

“We are disappointed by the outcome of the recent Ofsted inspection of the children’s home. Ofsted has suggested some areas where we can improve our provision and we are working hard to address these as quickly as possible.

“In the meantime, the children’s home continues to operate as usual. Providing quality support for the children in our care is paramount and we will continue to work closely with Ofsted during this process.

“This does not affect Kisimul School, which continues to operate as normal and is currently rated as Good by Ofsted.

“We are committed to providing a high quality, safe, learning and care environment for the children we work with so they can have the support they need to lead happy and fulfilling lives.”

Heather Sandy, interim director for education at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We have been informed that the police enquiry into safeguarding concerns at the children’s home of the Swinderby site of the Kisimul Group has been completed and that there will be no criminal proceedings as a result of the investigation.

“The Kisimul Group now have the sole responsibility for any further internal investigations. We monitor safeguarding procedures in all settings where Lincolnshire children and young people are placed and will continue to do so at this particular setting.”

Since the children’s care home side of Kisimul reopened, it has taken some measures to safeguard children including the appointment of night care managers and the restructuring of some care teams.

Young people who have returned have been given support to help them to cope with the impact of their move from the home.