SAFEGUARDING fears and leadership issues have led to a Cricklade school being rated Inadequate.
Ofsted inspectors raised fears over pupils potentially being at risk of harm at Meadowpark School in February and ordered the nursery to be shut following an unimpressive emergency inspection of both facilities.
After returning for a full visit in June, the education authority has now downgraded the primary school from Good to the lowest possible rating.
Leadership and management proved to be the biggest problem and the quality of education provided to pupils requires improvement.
On the other hand, the early years provision is good, as is the personal development, behaviour and attitudes of the pupils.
Lead inspector Paul Williams wrote: “The culture of safeguarding is weak. The proprietor has not ensured that the arrangements for keeping pupils safe are secure.
“They have introduced new systems, but gaps in teachers’ understanding of safeguarding remain.
“Staff have received training in safeguarding practice. Even so, they do not consistently follow the guidance in the school’s safeguarding policies when concerns about pupils’ wellbeing are first raised. Therefore, pupils are still at risk of harm.
“The quality of education at the school has declined since the previous standard inspection. Subject leaders lack the knowledge they need to plan learning effectively in many subjects.
“The headteacher left recently [which] had an unsettling effect on this small school.”
Interim head Gareth Thomas joined in April, after the damning findings of the emergency inspection criticised failings in the school’s senior leadership and the ability to provide risk assessment for pupils.
The returning inspectors noticed that this new appointment has helped to “stabilise the school” and improved its management “but the arrangements to keep pupils safe are still not fully effective”.
One notable change is that new policies and systems put in place at the school better ensure that welfare concerns can be formally logged.
There is plenty to suggest that the school might reclaim its Good rating one day if the new head’s improvements take hold.
Inspector Williams added: “Pupils are articulate, keen to learn and enjoy being at school. Pupils’ polite, calm behaviour is the hallmark of the school.
“Very few pupils are worried about bullying. Pupils respect each other and their teachers. This leads to a distinctive family atmosphere at the school. Parents and carers value this highly.
“Pupils write well. Their work is imaginative. Children develop empathy and compassion in this environment.
“The interim headteacher communicates well with staff and parents. He has begun to focus teachers’ attention on the things that make the most difference to pupils’ learning.
“Consequently, in a short period of time, he has gained the trust of staff and parents alike.”
Inspectors say the main areas the school needs to focus on improving include better curriculum planning, more thorough teachers’ checks on pupils’ learning progress, ensuring that standards are consistently met, and checking that staff fully understand the school’s safeguarding procedures as well as how to properly respond to any concerns raised.