Ipswich Bridge School vows to make rapid improvements after ‘inadequate’ Ofsted

The Bridge School in Ipswich, which has gone from being rated 'good' to 'inadequate' by Ofsted. Pict

The Bridge School in Ipswich, which has gone from being rated 'good' to 'inadequate' by Ofsted. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A special school in Ipswich has vowed to make immediate changes after Ofsted inspectors deemed it ‘inadequate’ in all areas.

The Bridge School, in Sprites Lane, was last given a ‘good’ rating in February 2015, but following its most recent inspection in March its rating has tumbled to the lowest possible.

Suffolk County Council issued a warning to the school in October last year following “serious and ongoing concerns about safety”.

The report said safeguarding was “woefully ineffective” and there had been a “long-standing and serious decline in standards”.

Other issues raised were weak teaching and assessments, a lack of coherent curriculum, poor practice and unkempt classrooms.

A joint statement from the school’s leadership team alongside Suffolk County Council’s interim children and young people director, said: “All children deserve a school environment where they can learn, develop, feel safe and reach their full potential.

“That is what we strive to deliver at the Bridge School but, as this Ofsted report shows, are not doing well enough. That must change right away.

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“It makes distressing reading, but in our view it is a thorough and accurate assessment of the school at the time of the inspection in March this year.

“We recognise that parents will feel anxious, upset and even angry. We feel the same, but must focus our energy on turning this situation around quickly and with the children’s best interests at the forefront.”

Work has already been underway to transform the school’s fortunes.

In January Tony Dickens joined as interim headteacher, while Philip Illsley became chairman of the school’s interim executive board in March.

The inspection report recognised that the new leadership team understood all of the school’s problems and urgent work on bringing standards up had already got underway.

The school, which caters for 147 pupils aged two-19 and is currently oversubscribed, has now been tasked with making rapid changes.

Among the measures needed were improvements to staff recruitment procedures, thorough checks on pupil wellbeing if they have been absent, flagging up concerns sooner and overhauling the curriculum into an effective programme.

The school’s statement continued: “We know what needs to be done, including improving teaching and learning, behaviour and safeguarding and putting in place proper management systems.

“We have a plan in place to deliver it quickly and openly.

“Suffolk County Council is already working closely with Philip, Tony and the team at the Bridge School to accelerate the improvement plan. This includes bringing in support from other schools and dedicating more senior officer support to the school.

“We want parents to be confident that the Bridge School is the best place for their children.

“We are therefore sharing the report with parents and meeting parents early next week.

“We also pledge to provide monthly updates on the Bridge School website, and meet regularly with parents, so that everyone can see what is being done to give the children and young people at the Bridge School the quality of education and support we want them to have and, more importantly, that they deserve.”