Parents reportedly won’t send their children to school in Mansfield out of fear for their safety

Children at a special school in Nottinghamshire have been put at ‘risk of harm’ and some have been neglected due to understaffing, according to a damning Ofsted report.

The education watchdog also found that Harlow Academy, Mansfield, was not meeting the basic care needs of pupils when inspectors visited on January 18, 19 and 20.

The former Fountaindale School in Harlow Wood received an inadequate report in each of six assessments of ‘overall effectiveness’, which includes leadership and management and quality of education.

Part of the assessment indicated that some children are not currently attending school because parents fear for their safety.

The school closed for two weeks after the inspection but has since reopened under new management, with bosses promising action.

The report said, “Students are not safe at this school.

“Staff do their best to look after and meet the complex needs of students. But there are not enough staff to ensure that all students are properly cared for.

“Understaffing puts students at imminent risk of harm. Some students are happy to come to school. However, some students’ basic needs are not being met.

“Some are neglected because staff are busy meeting the urgent needs of other students.

“Students are not getting an acceptable level of education. They are not making the progress they should.

“There is no clear curriculum in place. Staff do not consider students’ education, health and care plans when planning learning.

“Some students are currently not attending school because parents fear for their safety.”

The school has since appointed a new executive director, Luci Windle, with Evolve Trust, the trust that runs the school, also bringing in a new interim CEO, Wayne Norrie. Both are said to have expertise in running and managing schools, particularly in special education.

Evolve says it has appointed a new board of directors who collectively hold more than 130 years of relevant experience.

Wayne Norrie, acting chief executive of The Evolve Trust, said: “Nothing is more important than the safety of our children and that is our immediate and absolute priority.

“Unfortunately this report makes it very difficult to read, but I want to personally assure our school community that we take the findings of the report extremely seriously.

“As educators, we have a duty to ensure that provision is of the highest standards and that all students can learn in a safe and welcoming environment at all times. As such, we have taken prompt and effective action to ensure the safety of all children attending the Academy.

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“I would like to take this opportunity to thank our parents, caregivers and colleagues for their understanding, patience and support during this difficult time, however, I hope they agree that the positive changes made so far help to create a school of which they can be proud. .”

Andy Child MBE, Acting Chairman of The Evolve Trust Board, said: “We know there is still a lot of work to do, but the new Board is also confident that the relationships of the Academy with parents and guardians, the passion of our colleagues and the deep care we all share for our students, coupled with the expertise of the new leadership team, will ensure The Harlow Academy lives up to our shared vision for the school and to provide the best possible education for our young people.”

Leaders held information sessions with parents, caregivers and staff to keep them informed and updated on the changes and plans for the future.

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