A village school near Horncastle has promised improvements after a damning report by Ofsted amid an ongoing police investigation into allegations of assault and neglect.
Three men and a woman, who were employed at the Build-a-Future Independent School in West Ashby, were arrested on Wednesday, January 27 this year.
They were bailed pending further police investigations. The force has since said that the four people have been released under investigation, which remains ongoing.
The school was rated as ‘Good’ when the last routine inspection was carried out in 2019. Ofsted were later commissioned by the Department for Education for an additional inspection after concerns were raised about safeguarding arrangements, the quality of education and leadership and management.
This was conducted without notice on February 23 and 24 this year, but as it took place during the coronavirus pandemic, the lead inspector contacted the school to announce the inspection 30 minutes before their arrival.
Inspectors were also aware during this inspection that serious allegations of a child protection nature were being investigated by the appropriate authorities.
The overall outcome for the school from the inspection is that it does not meet all of the independent school standards that were checked during this inspection – see the full report here.
This includes that the proprietor had not ensured that all pupils receive an appropriate curriculum, and expectations of what pupils can do are too low.
The report, which was published on April 20, also states that the the proprietor has not ensured that safeguarding arrangements are effective.
Considerable weaknesses were found in safeguarding arrangements and there was also a lack of clarity about who has the responsibility for managing safeguarding concerns.
In addition, the report says that safeguarding records do not always show what, if any, action has been taken in response to any concerns about pupils’ welfare. Also, leaders do not always take appropriate action when a concern is raised about a pupil’s well-being.
The school said it has taken immediate action to address all matters raised in Ofsted’s report, while the county council said a full safeguarding audit is scheduled for this term.
A spokesperson for the school said: “We take our responsibility to provide the best education and support for young people very seriously.
“We have taken immediate action to address all matters raised in this report and are working in close partnership with Lincolnshire County Council to achieve this.
“We look forward to welcoming Ofsted back to demonstrate the improvements we have made. The safety and well-being of young people is our absolute priority.”
Build-a-Future was founded in Woodhall Spa 18 years ago before moving into a new premises in West Ashby a decade ago. The school became part of the Keys Group in December 2019.
Senior team members are on site at the school on both a daily and weekly basis to provide additional and targeted support.
An Ofsted spokesperson said: “The latest inspection, carried out in February, was an additional inspection commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) following concerns raised about safeguarding arrangements, the quality of education and leadership and management.
“It was not a routine inspection, therefore a judgement was not made. Any follow up inspections would be a decision taken by the DfE as they are the regulator for independent schools in England.”
Martin Smith, Assistant Director of Education at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “The safety and welfare of children and young people in our schools will always be our most important priority.
“We are working in close partnership with Build-a-Future to address the issues raised in the Ofsted report and are confident these can be rapidly met to fully satisfy colleagues in Ofsted.
“A full quality assurance audit has already taken place of the school’s processes and procedures. Education locality leads are now working with the school to improve those elements of the teaching and learning curriculum identified within the report. A full safeguarding audit is also scheduled this term.”