Ofsted inspectors have rated Edale Primary School as inadequate in a damning report, with teachers failing to record bullying incidents and some staff having not been vetted properly.
Inspectors said the relationships between leaders and governors at the school was so bad that some parents had lost faith and removed their children as a result, leading to a significantly falling roll and reduced budget.
The school, which is one of the smallest in the country with only 11 pupils in two mixed-age and mixed-ability classes, has been judged as inadequate in all areas.
But inspectors acknowledged that the school’s interim headteacher, serving in the absence of the permanent headteacher who has been absent from the school since December, had provided much-needed stability for the school.
The report reads: “The curriculum, pupils’ progress and teaching are well-led and managed in key stage 1 and in the early years.
“Pupils’ outcomes are consistently positive and improving in these areas of the school. This is in stark contrast to the quality of leadership and the rate of pupils’ progress in key stage 2.
“Leaders have not ensured that subject plans are suitable in key stage 2 to ensure that pupils are properly prepared for the demands of the national curriculum. Pupils’ weaknesses in reading and writing have not been addressed effectively.”
Alarmingly, the Ofsted visit found that since Edale’s last inspection, poor behaviour had not always been managed well and leaders had not kept accurate records of concerns raised by pupils, incidents of poor behaviour or of the actions taken in response.
Inspectors state in the report: “Bullying and other pupil concerns have not been recorded, despite evidence to suggest that incidents of this kind have occurred since the last inspection.
“Some parents had previously cited well-founded concerns about the school’s management of behaviour but current parents acknowledge
that behaviour now is markedly improved compared to previous years.”
And the school’s safeguarding practices were found to be seriously lacking, with inspectors saying that not all staff had been properly vetted, though school had since addressed the issue.
The last inspection also showed there were gaps in the register and staff were not clear about the school’s policy and procedure for managing allegations against staff.
With regard to quality of teaching the report found that, while mathematics was taught better than other subjects across the school, teachers’ assessment of pupils’ work in key stage 2 was inaccurate and teachers did not plan how they would develop pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding across the curriculum.
The report reads: “Despite significant strengths in the early years, the provision is inadequate because the school’s safeguarding policies, procedures and practices do not meet statutory requirements.”
Inspectors say the school needs to implement the key stage two curriculum more effectively, including in personal, social and health education (PSHE), and to monitor and support teaching better.
The school’s leadership team has been advised to make improvements to safeguarding processes and the management of pupil behaviour, and to strengthen communication with parents.
As a result of the inspection special measures are needed to make the improvements.
The co-chairs of the school’s governing body, Kay Argyle and John Payne, have written to parents to reassure them that they had wasted no time in addressing the main issues.
In their letter they state: “Although disappointing, this outcome has allowed us to really focus on what practical and clear changes are needed to bring the school back up to a standard the children deserve.
“We now have a clearly defined action plan that will enable us to bring about these changes very quickly.
“The school has purchased more challenging reading materials tailored to each individual child’s interests and implemented Big Spelling during English lessons as well as for homework. The timetable has been re-structured to ensure the core subjects receive greater attention.
“Everyone connected with school is working together with renewed vigour.”
Kathryn Boulton, Derbyshire County Council service director for schools and learning, said: “The council shares the disappointment of all connected with Edale C of E Primary School at the outcome of this inspection.
“It is pleasing to see that the new co-chairs of the governing body have clearly made a determined effort to tackle the issues highlighted by Ofsted and they are working closely with the council’s education improvement service to help them make the required changes.”