OFSTED inspectors have rated Wynstones School as ‘inadequate’ after uncovering a catalogue of failings, including concerns over pupil safeguarding.
The Steiner Waldorf school, which is located in Whaddon, on the outskirts of Gloucester, and has many pupils from Stroud, was found to be inadequate – the lowest of four grades – in every single category, after a visit from the education watchdog in March.
The school, which currently has 312 students on its books aged between three and 19, charges between £6,732 and £9,828 annually for day pupils and an extra £8,000 per year if they board at the school.
Ofsted’s damning report following an inspection in March, came after an inspection into boarding provision at the school in November which raised concerns.
Gaps in safeguarding were flagged up then and the boarding care was rated as inadequate. On the back of those findings, the school’s standard overall inspection was brought forward to March.
In the latest report, the inspectors have noted: “The trustees and managers have failed to ensure that the independent school standards (ISS) are met in full.
“They have not ensured that the quality of teaching and learning is of an acceptable standard.
“Nor have they assured themselves that the arrangements to keep pupils safe are robust enough.”
The school, which opened in 1937 and follows the Steiner Waldorf principles of education, was rated as ‘good’ at its last inspection in 2007.
But in the intervening years, standards have slipped, with management tasked with ‘too many responsibilities to ensure that the school provides a good quality of education and carry out effective child protection arrangements’, the inspectors said.
The failure of the school to carry out all the necessary checks and training for staff and volunteers, and to adequately monitor the quality of teaching, learning and assessment was highlighted by the inspectors..
Learning at the school follows the Steiner Waldorf principles and it was noted in the report that the pupils’ ‘spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is strong’.
However, the inspectors also noted that ‘standards across the school are too low’ and that ‘many pupils are working several years behind where they should be’.
There was recognition in the report that the trustees were taking ‘demonstrable action’ to address the main weaknesses at the school’ and ‘ensure the school is following statutory guidance to keep pupils safe’.
It says younger pupils with special educational needs do not receive the support they need to prepare them for upper school and other pupils, particularly the most able, make slow progress and do not reach the standards they are capable of.
The necessary leadership and support to help staff improve pupils’ outcomes was found to be lacking, and the inspectors noted low standards of behaviour and poor attendance amongst the pupils.
A spokesman for Wynstones said the school was deeply disappointed with the inspectors’ findings, but accepted its conclusions and was ‘working to rectify every weakness as a matter of urgency and restore the school to its ‘good’ rating’.
“Our teachers are deeply committed to the pupils at Wynstones and passionate about their work with them. We are confident that we have the capacity to improve.
“We are pleased that the inspectors noted recent improvements and acknowledge that we have made substantial progress in addressing the concerns raised.
“In particular, they remark that ‘managers are acting swiftly to address weaknesses in safeguarding practices’; that the management team and trustees are ‘aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the school’; and ‘are committed to ensuring that the school provides a good quality of education and are continuing to work to improve the child protection arrangements’.
“Much has been done in recent months to start a root-and-branch process of improvement. In particular the new Principal, Stephen Holland, has been appointed, along with a new Vice Principal, Paul Tallentire. Both bring extensive experience and professionalism to Wynstones and will play a key role in bringing about necessary change.
“Significantly, the inspectors note that pupils’ spiritual, moral and cultural development is strong and they have a good awareness of the world around them. They feel valued by staff and other pupils as individuals.
“Our aim, as trustees, teachers and managers, is to provide the best education possible for our pupils and we will not rest until that has been achieved.
“An action plan is well under way and will be sent to the Department for Education shortly.”