A damning Ofsted report has revealed a catalog of failings at a Birmingham school including bullying, homophobia and pupils feeling ‘not safe’. Ark Kings Academy was once named the ‘most improved school’ in England.
But it has been deemed ‘inadequate’ in four out of five areas in its latest inspection. The Kings Norton school has now been told it must improve in areas including truancy and safeguarding, which was branded ‘ineffective’.
The school, based on Shannon Road, was praised for its early years provision. Yet inspectors said secondary pupils “say that they do not feel safe. Bullying, derogatory language and homophobic behaviors are commonplace. They have no confidence that staff will support them when they raise concerns.”
Truancy was also raised as an issue at the school, whose pupils range in age from three to 16. The report said: “Leaders in the secondary phase do not make adequate checks when pupils are absent from school.
“This means that they do not know whether pupils are safe. Too many pupils are truant from lessons, and leaders have not taken effective action to address this.”
SEND provision was also criticized by inspectors, with pupils with special needs said to be “more likely to receive sanctions than their peers ”. The report added:” Leaders say they have high expectations of every pupil.
“However, pupils with special educational needs and / or disabilities (SEND) do not receive the support they need and so they do not achieve well. The number of suspensions for pupils with SEND is high and increasing.”
The arrangements for safeguarding are not effective, according to the report. It added: “There is not a culture of safeguarding in the secondary phase of the school.
“Teachers do not take responsibility for reporting safeguarding concerns. They are not aware of the extent of the issues that pupils face in or outside school.
“Leaders have not been diligent in identifying risks and so do not keep pupils safe through regular attendance checks or by keeping them safe from bullying or harassment.
“Safeguarding leaders are knowledgeable and experienced. They support individual pupils and families well and work with a range of agencies to ensure that pupils get the help that they need. However, their skills have not been used well to support and train their colleagues in the secondary phase. “
The primary side of the school was praised by inspectors, who classed early years prevision as ‘good’. They said: “Pupils in the primary phase enjoy coming to school. They are confident, curious and eager to learn.
“They feel safe and are well cared for. Teachers and leaders expect all pupils to achieve well and to behave well. Pupils meet these expectations. Pupils and adults get on well and they work together in a culture of respect and kindness.”
In 2015, the school was named as one of the most improved in England. Statistics at that time showed since 2013 GCSE results rose by 27 per cent, while the national average was down by six percentage points.
But in the latest Ofsted report the academy is deemed ‘inadequate’ in four categories; the quality of education, behavior and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management.
A spokesman for the school said: “ Whilst very disappointed with the inspection judgment, we fully accept the findings of this report, which are in line with issues we had already identified and started to proactively address. This has included appointing a new Executive Head, Secondary Principal and Primary Head of School, who together are already taking action to provide the best-possible education that all our children and young people deserve.
“This has also included increasing levels of staff specializing in student welfare, SEND and personal development, and working alongside experts to introduce a new behavior and rewards system which develops greater understanding on issues relating to diversity and inclusion.
“ We are committed to providing a high-quality education in a safe and welcoming environment, and are confident that with these robust plans already underway, together with the support of the Trust and new leadership team, the Academy will continue to rapidly improve and re- establish its positive trajectory. ”