School criticised for delaying improvements while challenging ‘inadequate’ rating

County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds Picture: ARCHANT

County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Gregg Brown

A school has come under fire for delaying “urgent and essential” improvements while challenging a previous inspection.

County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds Picture: ARCHANT

County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Gregg Brown

County Upper School, in Beetons Way, Bury St Edmunds was rated "inadequate" in March after the education watchdog raised issues with safeguarding and site security.

The school, which is part of the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust and had been outstanding since 1998, immediately launched its own reviews into Ofsted's findings.

Now, in the first monitoring inspection since the school was judged to be inadequate, Ofsted has criticised the school's action plan as being "not fit for purpose".

It also said leaders are not doing enough to address serious weaknesses.

MORE: County Upper School graded as inadequateIn a letter to headteacher Vicki Neale, lead Ofsted inspector John Mitcheson said: "The local authority, police and the Suffolk safeguarding children's board are not fully confident with the actions taken so far by you and other leaders to resolve the weaknesses in the school's arrangements for safeguarding pupils.


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"The stance taken by you, governors and trustees in doubting the findings of the previous inspection, rather than accepting them, has slowed the school's improvement.

"Safeguarding is still not as effective as all other aspects of the school's work. This is because leaders have focused too much time on challenging the outcomes of the inspection.

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"They have been preoccupied with commissioning their own reviews of safeguarding and the school site, thereby delaying urgent, essential improvement work in strengthening procedures to safeguard pupils."

MORE: New STEM school plans axed after funding pulledSpeaking about the progress being made, Mr Mitcheson said "decisive action" had been taken to improve pupils' safety on site with new fencing at the front of the school, and that systems and procedures for safeguarding pupils had also improved.

The management of safeguarding was also improving, Mr Mitcheson said, but "not all procedures are carried out consistently and systematically" at this stage.

Staff and pupils praised the recent improvements that have been made and parents were "very positive" about their children's safety and the quality of education being provided.

However, not all parents are entirely confident in the school's procedures to keep their children safe, Mr Mitcheson added.

Stephen Boor, chairman of the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust, said: "We are clearly disappointed that the many changes the school has implemented have not been sufficient to fully convince Ofsted of the effectiveness of safeguarding at the school.

"There are further changes we have made since the monitoring visit and others which are pending and we are confident that the situation by September will look very different."

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: "It is the role of the local authority to take the safety and welfare of all pupils very seriously, this includes those who may be vulnerable.

"Following the monitoring inspection report from Ofsted, Suffolk County Council will continue to work with County Upper School to assist them to address the points raised and we will challenge the academy where we believe the safety of its pupils is not being fully considered."

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