Warren school in Lowestoft judged ‘inadequate’ and put into special measures after inspection.
Concerns over the use of physical restraint on pupils with complex special educational needs at a school in Suffolk have been raised by inspectors in a highly critical report.
Warren school in Lowestoft, which caters for pupils aged three to 19 who have a wide range of complex special educational needs and disabilities, was judged “inadequate” in all areas and put into special measures after inspection by Ofsted, the schools watchdog for England.
Inspectors said risk assessment and behaviour management at the school have also been poor. “This has not helped to reduce the high use of physical restraint. This does not create a safe and calm learning environment for pupils and staff.”
Most of the 124 pupils at Warren School, which is part of the Believe Engage Succeed Trust (Best), have multiple, severe or profound learning difficulties, and there is also a high proportion of autistic pupils.
Staff told inspectors who visited the school in June they did not feel adequately trained to keep all pupils safe. Some said they had raised “numerous” concerns about pupils’ safety, which were not addressed.
The report also described “chronic staffing turbulence and absence” with pupils sent home when staffing levels fall too low. “This means that pupils do not access the education and care to which they are entitled,” the report said.
“Some pupils, especially when they have already arrived or are on their way to school, become very distressed by these sudden changes in their day. This causes angst to staff, pupils and parents and carers alike.”
The report said pupils are keen to be kind and caring, but lack the right support at the right time. “When this happens, pupils become bored, anxious, distressed or frustrated. This results in some pupils exhibiting aggressive or violent behaviours towards themselves, other pupils, or, more often than not, the staff.”
According to Ofsted, inspectors look at the use of restraint when inspecting any school, but it is used more frequently in some special schools, though there is nothing to suggest it is happening more regularly.
The headteacher, Neil Hutchinson, said: “As a school, we share the disappointment that our parent body feel when reading the recently published Ofsted report. When a school is inspected, it provides an opportunity for reflection and reaction.
“While we accept the findings of the report in full, we are not complacent and were already taking positive steps to improve the school and address the concerns raised in this and the previous report.”
The school used to be run by the local authority, but was taken over by Best in 2019 after an earlier inadequate rating by Ofsted. One parent, who did not want to be named, said: “We’ve had the worst few years at the school. The children are really quite traumatised by the whole experience.”
Hutchinson said the Best board was working closely with the local authority and the regional director’s office to ensure that improvements are made.
By: Sally Weale Education correspondent The Guardian