Shropshire Star

Serious concerns over safeguarding of pupils at Shropshire specialist academy

Education inspections have raised serious concerns about the safeguarding of pupils at Shropshire's Severndale Specialist Academy.

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A report from Ofsted warns that students, who have special educational needs or disabilities, are a risk of harm because staff do not have the knowledge to identify and address safeguarding issues. It says any potential problems or patterns of concern might go unnoticed.

Shropshire Council reassured parents and carers that their children who travel to the Severndale in Shrewsbury from across the county, are safe and Ofsted says the school's overall inspection level remains "Good".

Inspectors visited the school in July this year for a monitoring visit and their report now released to the public concluded safeguarding arrangements were not effective and that better staff training was needed.

The council said Severndale’s trustees and leadership team had taken swift action throughout the summer to address the issues and were working to address identified areas for improvement and put in place immediate and focused measures.

Severndale is also receiving support, in terms of leadership, management and governance, from the Learning Community Trust, based in Telford, which has experience running the Queensway special school.

Sabrina Hobbs, principal of Severndale Specialist Academy, said: “Although this is a very disappointing outcome, we want to reassure parents that their child is safe at Severndale.

"It is important to state that the report also identified several key strengths within safeguarding, stating that systems were precise and provide the right processes for all staff to follow.

“However, because of this inspection trustees at Severndale, with the Department for Education, have taken the decision to become part of a multi-academy trust. This will bring stability to what has been an extremely challenging time for us all.

“We hope that our actions assure parents and carers of our unwavering dedication and commitment to their children. We will continue to keep safeguarding of children and young people as our highest priority.”

Ofsted inspector Chris Pollit said there was inconsistency in how staff identified and addressed safeguarding issues with policies and procedures not effective in ensuring that all staff would raise relevant concerns or that these would be investigated.

"A lack of awareness limits the staff’s ability to support and develop the pupils’ understanding of how to identify and deal with risks in their local communities," the report says.

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