School told to tackle safeguarding two years on from 'inadequate' rating

Bury St Edmunds County Upper School.

County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds has been told it still needs to improve safeguarding - Credit: Gregg Brown

A secondary school rated "inadequate" by Ofsted has been told it still needs to improve safeguarding following an inspection.

County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds had a monitoring inspection on site in February due to "significant concerns about safeguarding".

The school was judged to have serious weaknesses at its full inspection in January 2019, which judged it to be "inadequate" and found "leaders have failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure pupils’ safety".

The 2019 report raised concerns over unauthorised persons being able to gain access to buildings on the school site.

It also said governors did not have a clear enough understanding about the dangers of local safeguarding risks, like the ‘county lines’ drugs trade.

The recent monitoring inspection has found "leaders and those responsible for governance are taking effective action to provide education in the current circumstances" but "safeguarding is not effective".

It said "leaders have not established a culture in which safeguarding is embedded in the day-to-day work of the school".

It added: "Although new site security arrangements have made it difficult for people to gain unauthorised access to the site, some pupils still do not feel safe."

Tim Coulson from the Unity Schools Partnership. Picture: UNITY SCHOOLS PARTNERSHIP

Tim Coulson from the Unity Schools Partnership - Credit: Unity Schools Partnership

Tim Coulson, chief executive of Unity Schools Partnership, which County Upper is part of, said: “We are pleased that the education provided by County Upper School during the pandemic was described as ‘high quality’.

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“But we also acknowledge and accept the comments from the monitoring inspection around safeguarding.

"We are now working closely with external agencies to address these comments as quickly as possible.”

In a letter to parents, Mr Coulson, headteacher Nick Froy and chairman of governors Ian Cox, said: "We know from the amazing support the school receives that many of you will feel the same frustration and disappointment that the trust, staff and governors feel when reading about this particular aspect of the school.

"However, as staff, governors and trust, we accept the findings and the need to address the issues raised immediately.

"Since the inspection, we have established even closer links with the local authority and other external agencies."

They said they expect a further Section 8 (monitoring) inspection later this term and are "confident" they will quickly ensure that safeguarding will be judged as effective.

"We value both your support and recognise the work of our staff at the school," they told parents.

There will be a parents forum in the next few weeks and the school will share with parents the action plan that has been drawn up.

Mr Froy is headteacher until September, when Sally Kennedy will take up the position full-time.