More than a dozen staff off long-term at Jane Lane School
A crisis-hit Walsall special school still has 16 members of staff on long term absence, months after it was forced to temporarily close.
The Jane Lane School was temporarily closed in February amidst concerns over health and safety due to low staffing levels, which was followed by a damning Ofsted report which saw inspectors place it in special measures.
The special school on Churchill Road caters for 143 pupils aged seven to 19.
Ofsted inspectors said after their visit in November that records of any physical intervention were left incomplete, with several entries in the school's records not making it clear if a family member had been contacted – despite this being the school's policy.
Now inspectors have returned for a monitoring visit in April, and in a report published this week they say that leaders are taking "effective action" towards the removal of special measures, the local authority’s statement of action is fit for purpose, and the school’s improvement plan is fit for purpose.
The report also says that since the previous inspection there have been "considerable changes" to the leadership structure.
The governing body was dissolved in February and an interim executive board (IEB) was put in place.
The report adds: "Currently there are 16 members of staff on long-term absence. The weekly average number of supply staff filling these positions is 20.
"Since taking up her post in February 2019, the acting interim headteacher has quickly established herself within the school and has developed positive working relationships with members of the IEB, the deputy headteacher and staff within the school.
"She has galvanised the staff and, together with the strengthened leadership team and experienced members of the IEB, has made some significant changes in order to instigate the necessary improvements across the school.
"These have been achieved in a very short amount of time. However, the school improvement journey is still at an early stage.
"While it is clear that there are improvements in some aspects of the school’s performance, such as safeguarding and behaviour, some key weaknesses remain."
A spokesman for Walsall Council said: "Whilst we were concerned and disappointed with the position of Jane Lane School following the inspection in November 2018 we are pleased that the improvements made since then have been recognised by HMI following their visit to the school in April 2019.
"This was the first monitoring inspection since November and it was pleasing to see they recognised that the leaders are taking effective action and have made significant improvements in relation to safeguarding. We would like to thank again all the head teachers, IEB members and local schools that supported the children, parents and school staff during this challenging time.
"It was pleasing to see the specific mention of the positive relationships between pupils and adults and that staff have a good understanding of pupils’ social and emotional needs.
"We are aware that this is just the beginning of the journey for the school, and we still have a long way to go, but we are confident we are moving in the right direction to improve the outcomes for our children and young people at Jane Lane School."