Inadequate rating for Lancaster boys' school
A residential boys' school in the Lune Valley has gone from '˜outstanding' to '˜inadequate' within six months.
Boys considered “naughty” at Wennington Hall School were prevented from returning to their family home on a Friday night, and one boy was found to be sleeping in the medical room, an Ofsted inspection discovered.
School inspectors visited the school in December 2016 and found its teaching and residential provision to be inadequate overall, despite a glowing report just six months earlier.
Inspectors found that school governance in relation to safeguarding students is inconsistent, and there is evidence of physical intervention to ensure students comply with staff instruction. Boys who break the school’s managed restrictions eight times are punished by being prevented from returning to their family home on a Friday night.
Inspectors found that one young person was sleeping in the medical room as a temporary measure due to a limited number of single rooms.
The room was not large enough for the boy to store his personal belongings.
Until the issue was identified by inspectors, there was no plan in place to review this arrangement, although the report said that staff immediately took action to review the arrangements to identify improvement where possible.
The school, which can support 77 boys aged between 11 and 16 years old, rewards good behaviour by offering “privilege bedrooms”.
Due to occupancy levels in the residential houses and a limited number of privilege bed spaces, occupants move in and out of the rooms within each term.
Inspectors said this resulted in there being little ownership of personal bed space or security for pupils relating to whom they will share bedrooms with.
As a result of whistleblowing concerns about standards of care at the school, an investigation was commissioned by Lancashire County Council to assess the safety of pupils.
More recently, staff whistleblowing complaints have raised concerns about the quality of relationships within school that are being investigated.
Amanda Hatton, director of children’s services at Lancashire County Council said: “We are aware of the issues raised by Ofsted in relation to Wennington Hall and have been supporting the residential school for some time.
“We have appointed an experienced head teacher to help the school move forward educationally.
“We have also put significant additional county council support into the school to ensure that pupils are safe, including leadership capacity as well as holding weekly safeguarding meetings and addressing the individual safeguarding needs of each pupil.
“Our priority is the welfare of the pupils and so we are in the process of working with the school to develop a comprehensive improvement plan, which will address all identified issues, and we will support staff in its implementation.”
An Ofsted spokesperson said: “As is standard Ofsted practice, we conducted a social care inspection of this residential special school because we became aware of changes in its circumstances.
“Our inspectors found that the school failed to meet the national minimum standards set for residential special schools.
“The latest inspection report details the various failings inspectors found, which led them to judge the school as inadequate.”
Whilst the school received an inadequate rating, young people told inspectors that they enjoyed their time at the school, got on well with staff, and enjoyed the social aspect.