Ofsted inspectors return to Ipswich Bridge School for first time since ‘inadequate’ rating

The Bridge School in Ipswich is still not up to speed on safeguarding, Ofsted has said Picture: GREG

The Bridge School in Ipswich is still not up to speed on safeguarding, Ofsted has said Picture: GREGG BROWN

An Ipswich special school rated ‘inadequate’ by inspectors six months ago has been told its safeguarding is still not effective.

Suffolk County Council cabinet member for education Gordon Jones Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Suffolk County Council cabinet member for education Gordon Jones Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

Ofsted paid a visit to The Bridge School in Sprites Lane on September 12 for the first monitoring inspection since it was given the lowest rating by the education watchdog following an inspection in March.

The report, published on Friday by inspector Stefanie Lipinski-Barltrop, said that having considered the evidence “safeguarding is not effective”.

She said that while the interim leadership team had an accurate understanding of the school’s weaknesses, gaps in the records of staff appointed prior to the leadership change had still not been addressed and the safeguarding was “not compliant with current requirements”.

The report continued that training had been provided for staff on behaviour management, but there was not a coherent system in place for analysing pupil behaviour across the school.

Attendance also remains below average, Ofsted said.

Tony Dickens joined as interim headteacher in January, as well as an interim executive board being installed in March in a bid to help drive improvements.

Councillor Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education and skills, said: “The local authority is working with The Bridge School’s interim executive board and the school’s community of parents, carers and staff to achieve the outcomes that we all want – the best possible education for pupils.

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“The most important priority is to swiftly address the improvements identified by Ofsted and the local authority, and it has been encouraging to see that Ofsted’s recent visit in September acknowledged the changes that have taken place so far and were positive about the school’s current leadership.

“They also recognised the benefits of future plans that the leadership team are putting in place with the support of the local authority.”

Data published by the Department for Education in August revealed that an application for the school to be converted to an academy under a sponsor was approved in May, with work underway to finalise details with a sponsor academy trust.

The latest news has led to concerns by The Bridge School Parent Action Group.

A spokesman from the group said: “The local authority, interim executive board and interim school leaders have been quick to highlight the safeguarding failings at the school with blame directed towards the previous leadership team.

“The sole purpose of the IEB and the new senior leadership team was to address the very serious safeguarding issues identified by the local authority during October 2017 and the findings published by Ofsted in May 2018.

“Unfortunately this latest report confirms they have been woefully ineffective at delivering the required changes to improve safeguarding arrangements at the school.

“Moreover this report compounds the LA, IEB school leaders’ incompetence and parents are asking who is to be held accountable?

“Poor management and succession planning by senior leaders have led to further cuts. For example, the sixth form has been axed, provision for swimming as part of the school curriculum ceased as has the half term school holiday club which offered vital child care provision for working parents.

“The school is not improving, valued staff are leaving and Suffolk’s most vulnerable children continue to suffer in the hands of the LA.”

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