Birmingham school rated inadequate in every department - here’s why

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The school has been rated inadequate in every department as Ofsted inspectors explained how pupils are not safe following a two-day inspection

A school for boys with emotional and mental health difficulties in Birmingham has been placed in special measures after a scathing report outlined how children are unsafe while swearing, homophobic and racist language is commonplace and unchallenged.

Lea Hall Academy, on Hallmoor Road, Lea Hall has been rated inadequate across the board following a two-day visit in July. Ofsted inspectors stated how “pupils’ behaviour in nearly all classes is disruptive and at times chaotic”.

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The report, led by inspectors Ann Pritchard, Mel Ford and Gwen Owen, added: “Pupils show little or no respect towards one another and rarely follow staff’s instructions. Over time, leaders’ ambition has been low, and almost all pupils receive an exceptionally poor quality of education.

“In response to concerns about pupil safety, most key stage 3 pupils (aged between 11 and 14) are currently only expected to attend school for 50% of the time. There is a poor curriculum in the primary provision and none in key stage 3. Pupils learn very little and often learn nothing at all.

“There is very little in place to support pupils’ personal development. A small number of pupils benefit from specialist support. Pupils are not prepared for their next steps in education.

Lea Hall Academy (Credit- Google Maps) Lea Hall Academy (Credit- Google Maps)
Lea Hall Academy (Credit- Google Maps) | google maps

“When pupils are provided with positive wider experiences, they show what they are capable of. Their recent musical performance demonstrated that they can be engaged, appreciate others and achieve.”

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Inspectors did, however, explain how Lea Hall Academy “faced significant turbulence in staffing over the last two years, including in leadership and management”. Ofsted said: “The trust that runs the school has now stabilised leadership. Recently, leaders have worked quickly to identify and begin to address the significant inadequacies across the school. The trust has also provided specialist support to swiftly remedy some of the key concerns in safeguarding.

“The majority of staff recognise the importance of the changes that leaders are making and are working collaboratively with them to improve the provision for pupils. However, there is not a fully cohesive staff team working together for the benefit of the pupils.”

In the report published today (October 13), safeguarding remained a huge issue while pupils’ absence rates are high.

“There is no consistent approach to managing pupils’ behaviour,” Ofsted continued. “Leaders’ and staff’s expectations have been very low, and too many staff do not have the skills to challenge and manage poor behaviour effectively, including the use of derogatory language and swearing. Consequently, low-level misbehaviour rapidly escalates as pupils push the almost non-existent boundaries as far as they can.

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“Over time, pupils have recognised that they can avoid learning and following instructions by behaving poorly. This has led to a situation where pupils generally do as they wish. Pupils are entirely reliant on adults to regulate their behaviour for them because they are not learning to do so themselves.”

Lea Hall Academy, part of the Forward Education Trust, currently has 84 boys on its roll aged between five and 15. The school converted into an academy in September 2021 and this inspection was the first since the Covid-19 pandemic, Ofsted said.

In response to the Ofsted report, the Forward Education Trust said weaknesses highlighted are being addressed while parents and carers have been given a letter outlining that their children are safe at Lea Hall Academy. Pupils’ behaviour, the school says, is now said to be improving “rapidly”.

A spokesman added: “We have robust mechanisms to monitor and improve attendance of pupils and we are making improvements to our curriculum, including the teaching of reading which was highlighted as a major point to address.”

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