Holgate Meadows: Sheffield special school where pupils 'do not feel safe' rated 'inadequate'

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Pupils ‘do not feel safe’ due to bullying at a Sheffield special school according to a scathing report by inspectors.

Holgate Meadows School, in Lindsay Avenue, Parson Cross, has been dropped from its previous rating of ‘good’ in 2016 to ‘inadequate’ in all areas – the lowest possible rating Ofsted can assign.

Pupils told inspectors about bullying, racial abuse and that staff too often use physical restraint and intervention to manage behaviour.

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Ofsted inspectors have scolded Holgate Meadows special school after finding some pupil felt they "did not feel safe" due to bullying.Ofsted inspectors have scolded Holgate Meadows special school after finding some pupil felt they "did not feel safe" due to bullying.
Ofsted inspectors have scolded Holgate Meadows special school after finding some pupil felt they "did not feel safe" due to bullying.

Now, in its newest report published on June 17, the education watchdog has scolded the school’s leadership for their lack of vision and have placed them in special measures.

“Some pupils say they do not feel safe in school,” the report reads, following a visit in late March.

“Pupils tell teachers about issues that concern them, but are not confident teachers can help.

“Other pupils, and their parents, complain that too often pupils are subject to physical interventions to manage their behaviour.

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“Some pupils say they have been subject to racial abuse from other pupils.

“The number of physical assaults on staff is high.

“Adults sometimes struggle to manage escalating poor behaviour without physically restraining pupils.”

However, the report noted staff were already taking action to cut down on physical restraints, including working with the city council and holding weekly safeguarding meetings.

Holgate Meadows is a special school for Y1 through to Y11, where all pupils have Education, Health and Care plans.

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Inspectors noted how the school has had four different principals in three years, with the newest, Claire Bailey, having only been at the post for three months at the time of their visit.

“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, in the midst of these leadership changes, has been huge,” the report reads.

“Staff are enthusiastic about wanting to provide pupils with the best care and education possible.

“However, they lack the professional development to allow them to successfully deliver the curriculum and manage pupils’ behaviour.”

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Criticisms were levelled at the school’s leadership, saying its interim executive board was “not sure” about how they could improve, while the roles of senior and middle staff were “unclear”.

The curriculum was also found lacking. Teachers were not teaching phonics accurately because they hadn’t been trained properly, leading “too many” pupils being unable to read,” the report states.

Weaknesses were also found in maths, while poor planning by leaders meant the school was not teaching “all aspects of the relationships and sex education curriculum as required by the government”.

Now, Holgate Meadows has been ordered to overhaul how they manage pupils’ behaviour to cut down on assaults and restraints, as well as redevelop their curriculum.

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In a statement, principal Claire Bailey said: “This [report] is extremely disappointing for everyone here at Holgate Meadows.

“Ensuring a safe and inclusive environment for all our pupils to learn in has been and continues to be our number one priority. Since the inspection, our current leadership has already made a range of tangible improvements including additional high-quality training for staff and new internal processes.

“We will continue to work closely with the Local Authority and our external partners to implement further rapid improvements to the school and its curriculum, as well as continuing to provide the best possible care, support and education for our children at Holgate Meadows.”

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