Frustrated parents said they were 'not surprised' as a Nottingham school was hit with a damning report by Ofsted. Bulwell Academy in Squires Avenue has been rated as 'inadequate' by the watchdog following an inspection in October.
The report signed by Ofsted states "too many pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) do not receive the education that they deserve" and that leaders have not identified needs accurately. "Leaders’ expectations of what these pupils can achieve are far too low", they added.
Although the behaviour has been described as 'usually calm in lessons and at social times', inspectors said those with special needs do not benefit from reasonable adjustments.
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They also said: "Pupils say that bullying happens in school. They are not always confident that their teachers will resolve bullying effectively. Pupils do not receive enough opportunities to enrich their learning."
The Ofsted report has identified the systems to safeguard pupils as 'poor', adding: "Pupils who attend alternative provision are not adequately monitored. School leaders are not always clear if pupils are attending and are safe."
In response to the inspection outcome, Chris Keen, Executive Principal, has issued a letter on the school's website, saying that 'rapid progress' is underway to make changes in the school. He added: "We are disappointed in their conclusion that the school should be graded “inadequate”, however, we are very clear that even in a few short months, the school has made so much progress that, should they visit us again, they would recognise the improvements made."
However, for some parents at the school, the outcome of the report did not come as a surprise. Juanita Longworth, a mum of three, said: "Unless there are some drastic changes made to the school very quickly, I do not see the point in keeping it open".
Two of her children currently study at this school. The 43-year-old added: "The school is failing these children. They are not receiving their best education."
She has expressed concerns about the experience pupils with special needs have in school. The mum said she has been considering moving her children to a different school. Ms Longworth went on and said: "These families are suffering because of the lack of quality in education."
Gemma Thom also has two children at the school - and the report "did not surprise me in the slightest". The 46-year-old added: "I would have been surprised if there was something good to say about the school.
"My son has autism and he was totally let down by this school. There is no communication between parents and the school.
"I feel like this school is failing our children. I would take my son out of that school in a heartbeat, but he already has friends there and an environment.
"There is no respect for these children. I am not saying that all teachers are bad, but unfortunately there is a lack of quality."
She added: "I feel desperate as a parent, especially when you have a child who lacks confidence to talk to the staff at school. How are these children supposed to communicate with the staff?"
Ms Thom described the safeguarding at the school as 'appalling', adding: "This school needs an absolute overhaul because it is not meeting the children's needs. There are so many parents who are just frustrated with the school."
She said that many parents cannot afford to get their children to a top school outside Bulwell. Ms Thom said she used to have to pay £15 for her son's weekly travels to school until she recently got it for free.
The mum added: "It is getting ridiculous. We are all making an effort here, especially with the cost of living - all for them to go to school and get the education they need and deserve. But this school is failing these children."
Chris Keen, Executive Principal of Bulwell Academy, said: “In the last few months, Interim Head of School Sam Williamson and I have been able to make immediate changes to improve a number of areas at Bulwell Academy. This has included introducing literacy programmes to help improve pupils' reading skills, providing more opportunities for pupils to learn new skills after school and making time for teachers to further develop their skills in the classroom.
“While we were disappointed in Ofsted’s conclusion that the school should be graded “inadequate” following the inspection earlier in the autumn term, we are confident that Ofsted would already be able to recognise the rapid progress made in a few short months. As evidenced in the October performance tables, Bulwell Academy is the most improved school in Nottingham from 2019 on the government’s headline progress 8 measure, which is indicative of the improvement work that has been done thus far."
Alex Norris, Labout MP for Nottingham North, said: "This report confirms what we knew about the disappointing challenges the school is facing. There is new leadership and a new plan in place to make the significant improvements necessary and we must all pull together to help it succeed.”
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