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'Serious concerns' about safety of vulnerable pupils at £18,000-a-year school

PUBLISHED: 13:38 06 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:18 07 July 2019

Ofsted inspectors have judged Horatio House Independent School in Lound, which caters for 11 to 16-year-olds who have been or are likely to be permanently excluded from mainstream schools, to be inadequate. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire

Ofsted inspectors have judged Horatio House Independent School in Lound, which caters for 11 to 16-year-olds who have been or are likely to be permanently excluded from mainstream schools, to be inadequate. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire

An independent school helping vulnerable children has been criticised by inspectors who say it "does not have the capacity to improve".

Ofsted found a catalogue of failings at Horatio House in Lound, near Lowestoft, including unacceptable and "often unmanageable" behaviour, persistent absence among almost all its pupils and serious concerns about the actions taken to keep pupils safe.

The school, which charges annual fees of up to £18,000 per pupil, was ranked inadequate in all areas by inspectors following a three-day visit in May.

However, the watchdog said current leaders had begun putting an updated plan for improvement into action.

Horatio House, which has 40 pupils on its roll aged 11 to 16, caters for young people who have been permanently excluded or are at risk of exclusion from mainstream schools. Most have social, emotional and behavioural needs and around one-third have education, health and care plans.

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Ofsted said leaders of the Great Yarmouth Community Trust, which runs the school, had a limited understanding of how it operated and had relied on information from "a succession of headteachers... rather than finding out for themselves".

Inspectors said not enough was done to protect vulnerable pupils and full checks were not carried out on alternative providers and employers taking pupils for work experience.

An over-reliance on temporary teaching staff meant pupils' learning was suffering in many subjects, but progress in maths, science and art was said to be strong.

Despite a legacy of poor governance, inspectors said the school's self-evaluation was honest and accurate and that, following a period of significant turbulence, the current acting headteacher was beginning to make improvements with support from a recently-formed school improvement board.

Andrew Forrest, executive director of Great Yarmouth Community Trust, said all of Ofsted's safeguarding recommendations had already been implemented.

"At Horatio House our ambition has always been to give young people with very specialist needs the fresh chance they need to achieve their future potential. Although this report recognises that we are beginning to improve, overall it is not good enough and we are working to make urgent improvements for our students," he said.

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