Ofsted finds pupils subject to LGBT harassment

1st June, 2022 2:36 pm

A school in one of the country’s leading academy chains has been told it may lose its funding after an inspection found pupils were subject to homophobic bullying and sexual harassment.

The Department for Education handed a warning notice to Ark Kings Academy in Birmingham after an Ofsted inspection found that secondary pupils did not feel safe, while “bullying, derogatory language and homophobic behaviours are commonplace”.

Pupils had “no confidence that staff will support them when they raise concerns”, and “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pupils experience repeated discriminatory behaviour against them”, Ofsted found.

The DfE said the school’s leaders had not recognised these problems so they could not take the “right steps” to prevent incidents.

In the school’s Ofsted report, pupils said there were “high levels of bullying and prejudiced behaviour” that went unrecorded.

“Pupils feel that they have to tolerate the frequent sexual harassment towards them,” the report said.

Ofsted noted that pupils with special educational needs and disabilities were also more likely to receive sanctions than their peers, with a “high and increasing” number of suspensions.

The inspection also warned of high truancy rates, adding: “Leaders in the secondary phase do not make adequate checks when pupils are absent from school. This means that they do not know whether pupils are safe.”

Andrew Warren, the regional schools commissioner for the West Midlands, wrote a warning to the school that its funding agreement with the DfE could be terminated and it could be placed with a different academy trust.

He wrote: “As regional schools commissioner, I need to be satisfied that the trust has capacity to deliver rapid and sustainable improvement at the academy.”

An Ark spokesman said: “Whilst very disappointed with the inspection judgment, we fully accept the findings of the inspection report.

“We had identified many of the issues prior to the inspection and had taken action to begin to address these ahead of the inspection. That work has gathered pace since, and we are very confident the school will improve rapidly over the coming months.

“We have appointed an executive principal and a new secondary principal to lead this work and the school will have the support and resources of our large, successful network to ensure all pupils experience a consistently high-quality education.”

Pupils at the school are often put into alternative provision due to poor behaviour, the inspection found, but the school does not monitor the attendance of any student educated off-site, meaning that many were absent.

The report went on: “Leaders have not taken care to make sure that they mark pupils’ attendance accurately.

“As a result, too many pupils are missing education, and leaders do not know this.”

The combination of bullying, absence and poor behaviour meant pupils “are not receiving a satisfactory standard of education and too many behave badly and are suspended”.

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