School with 'unsafe' and 'sexist' culture makes improvements

Colchester Royal Grammar School

Colchester Royal Grammar School - Credit: Google

A grammar school which was threatened with a takeover after being found to have an “unsafe” culture has made steps towards being taken out of serious weaknesses designation.

Ofsted said students at Colchester Royal Grammar School felt unsafe in school because of their gender or race and that leaders failed to recognise the issues faced by pupils, after an inspection in May 2021.

But in a new report published on March 25, the watchdog said progress had been made towards the removal of the serious weaknesses designation.

A change in safeguarding leadership has taken place and procedures for reporting concerns, including anonymously via pupils’ mobile phones, have been improved, according to an Ofsted report.

Pupils showed greater awareness of equality and respect and felt more confident reporting discriminatory behaviour.

A student support hub has also been opened on the school site.

Headmaster John Russell said in a statement: “Over the last 12 months we have worked with pace and purpose to ensure that our school offers an environment where positive and healthy relationships flourish.

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“The outcome of this inspection shows that the actions we are taking are effective and having a real and tangible impact. At every level of the school the inspectors applauded the work that has been undertaken, which is testament to the collective efforts of so many people in our community.”

Janet Perry, Chair of Governors, said in a statement: “We have adopted a raft of new processes and initiatives to build on the school’s ethos and values and these will take time to embed. At every stage we will evaluate the effectiveness of what has been done and look at how we can build on that.

“The reality is that, as for any school, our work in this vital area has never concluded."

A previous report said students were reluctant to report their concerns to staff, who failed to recognise a culture at school which did not promote equality and respect.

Girls are first admitted into the school at sixth form, and boys had not been educated on how to interact with girls appropriately, making inappropriate remarks and judging them by their appearance, according to the previous report. 

The new report says girls who joined in Year 12 told inspectors they feel fully supported and have not experienced any unwanted comments from boys.