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Teachers afraid as students run wild at 'inadequate' Walsall school

By Pete Madeley | Walsall | Ofsted reports | Published:

Unruly pupils set off a fire alarm and tried to smash through locked doors during an inspection at a Walsall school which has been given Ofsted's bottom rung rating.

Ofsted inspectors visited the centre earlier this year

Inspectors said parents had refused to send their children to The New Leaf Centre in Pelsall Lane, Rushall, over safety concerns, while staff feared working there due to pupils' poor behaviour.

The school, which caters for some of the most vulnerable children in Walsall, has been branded 'inadequate' across the board by Ofsted.

It was said to be 'dirty and badly maintained' and suffered from 'an overarching climate of hostility and disrespect'.

The report notes a 'rapid decline' in the quality of education at the 142-pupil school – which was was rated 'good' in its last inspection in January 2015 – and deals with troubled youngsters aged between five and 16.

It also lists a series of failings on the part of Walsall Council, which it says has not provided effective support for the school despite knowing about its shortcomings for nearly a year.

Lead inspector Mike Cladingbowl delivered a damning assessment on the centre following Ofsted's two-day visit in April.

He said leadership was ineffective and unstable, with three headteachers in five years and only three members of staff on permanent contracts.

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Attendance and punctuality were said to be 'poor', pupils' conduct was 'often very poor' and safeguarding was described as 'ineffective'.

Branding pupil behaviour 'inadequate', Mr Cladingbowl said the school was 'often disorderly' and that youngsters were 'frequently rude towards staff and to each other'.

"They move around the school without regard for rules or conventions. During the inspection, pupils wandered in and out of rooms, often pushing through others, attempted to break through locked doors, and set off a fire alarm."

The report added: "Some parents and staff are concerned that the poor behaviour in school risks the safety of pupils and staff."

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"Governors have failed to provide a safe environment for pupils." Outcomes for learners were 'poor', the report said, adding that not a single key stage 4 pupil was entered for GCSE examinations in 2016 and 2017 and no Year 6 pupils were entered for national tests last year

School buildings were said to be 'barely fit for purpose'. "The primary site is dirty and badly maintained," inspectors said. "Pupils are not always taught in a safe environment.

"Records of risk assessments and staff training are often incomplete or out of date."

Inspectors were highly critical of the role of Walsall Council, which runs the school, rating governance 'inadequate'. "The local authority has not provided effective support for the school," the report said.

"It has not ensured that pupils are cared for, or taught, sufficiently well enough.

"It has not held to account those who have been responsible for leading and governing the school."

The report said a new interim headteacher and an interim senior secondary leader were 'beginning to halt the decline in standards'.

Council bosses have vowed to do all they can to bring in improvements at the school.

Education chief Councillor Christopher Towe, said: "Clearly we are extremely disappointed with this damning report and we are determined to bring standards up at the centre.

"We have already put measures in place, including a new interim headteacher and a reconstructed board of governors with a new chair.

"Rest assured this report has not been taken lightly."

In its previous inspection in January 2015 the school was rated 'good'.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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