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Park House School in Newbury 'in turmoil' – Ofsted

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Ofsted says Park House School is in turmoil – Newburytoday can exclusively reveal.

Many pupils say they feel unsafe, and that their learning is disrupted by poor behaviour of others.

Some even told inspectors they don’t report bullying because they don’t think it will make a difference or make things worse.

Park House School is in special measures
Park House School is in special measures

Inspectors pointed to ‘significant weaknesses’ at the 1,200 pupil school in Newbury, caused by ongoing changes to senior leadership and governance.

It said: "Park House School is in a state of turmoil.

"Since the last inspection, ongoing changes to senior leadership and governance have impacted negatively on the school s ethos and direction.

"This is reflected in the significant weaknesses identified during this inspection."

Park House School has had a damning Ofsted report
Park House School has had a damning Ofsted report

The school, the only one in the Transform Learning Trust, has been placed into special measures – after the damning report, which deemed the quality of education, behaviour and attitude, and leadership and management as inadequate.

The sixth form, which has 145 pupils, and personal development both require improvement.

Ofsted says that leaders do not do enough to assure themselves that pupils are safe and that pupils are too frequently absent from school or lessons.

“The atmosphere around the school is unsettled,” says the report. “While many pupils conduct themselves well, others do not. At times, this makes their peers feel unsafe.”

It says a significant minority of pupils choose to disregard adults’ expectations for their behaviour.

“Some pupils do not come to school as often as they should, even taking account of illness linked to the Covid-19 pandemic,” it goes on.

“Older pupils, particularly in the sixth form, sometimes have their lessons disrupted by younger pupils who are placed in their classrooms as a sanction.”

Teaching standards also get a drubbing – with the report saying teachers have useful knowledge of the subjects they teach.

But that their planning is heavily influenced by the qualifications that pupils are studying towards, rather than the knowledge that they need to gain.

Consequently, teachers’ checks on pupils’ learning are not precise enough to identify the knowledge gaps that need to be addressed. This impedes the pace with which teachers can address these gaps.

The arrangements for safeguarding are also not effective, according to Ofsted.

“High levels of truancy and weaknesses in registration arrangements put pupils at risk, because adults do not know where they are,” it says.

“During the inspection, leaders acknowledged they could not confidently identify which sixth-form students were on site, because arrangements for student registration were not working effectively.

Some staff, despite receiving training, do not understand their safeguarding duties well enough.

“For instance, their knowledge of the potential risks to pupils in relation to harmful sexual behaviours is not up to date. This means that they are not sufficiently alert to when pupils may be at risk from harm,” said the report.

Ofsted says school governance lacks the rigour needed to bring about rapid improvement.

The trust acknowledges that it does not have the necessary capacity to influence change as quickly as is needed.

The inspection was carried out following a number of complaints made to Ofsted that raised serious concerns.

Park House will now be in special measures which means regular monitoring visits to see if improvements are being made.

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