Safeguarding is judged ‘effective’ at Bury St Edmunds school in special measures

Howard Community Primary School'Beard Road'Picture Mark Westley
Howard Community Primary School'Beard Road'Picture Mark Westley

Safeguarding at a Bury St Edmunds school in special measures has been judged ‘effective’ by Ofsted - but the level of council support has come under fire.

The education watchdog said that ‘action has been taken to resolve issues relating to safeguarding’ at Howard Community Primary, which was rated ‘inadequate’ in all areas last year.

Following a monitoring visit last month, inspector John Mitcheson said ‘clear procedures are in place for raising concerns about pupils’ safety and welfare’.

He noted that ‘lessons have been learned’ after leaders appointed a member of staff last year who was later found to not have the required qualifications and has since left the school.

“A scrutiny of the most recent appointments made since the last inspection confirmed that all of the required checks are now made when recruiting new staff,” Mr Mitcheson said.

Interim headteacher Stephen Fanthorpe ‘ensures the school operates smoothly on a daily basis, and is beginning to hold staff much more accountable for improving provision’.

However, Howard Primary ‘remains a serious concern because much of its work remains inadequate’.

There has been ‘effective action’ to improve pupils’ personal development, behaviour and welfare but changes by successive school leaders have ‘undermined attempts to embed consistent approaches to deal with poor behaviour’.

Absence rates are ‘too high’ at the school.

Mr Mitcheson said officers from Suffolk County Council have ‘not done enough to help the school resolve weaknesses in safeguarding procedures they identified themselves prior to the last inspection’.

Regular visits by officers have had ‘little impact in securing the long-term strategic direction of the school’.

Howard Primary recently joined the Chilford Hundred Education Trust (CHET).

Toby Slater Robins, chairman of governors, said he was ‘pleased’ safeguarding was now considered effective.

“There’s clearly more work to do across the school, but I’m confident that we’re beginning to make significant progress,” he added.

A council spokesman said they had been ‘working intensively with the school’ to address issues raised in the Ofsted inspection last year.

He added: “As a result, the report recognises that safeguarding is effective, following action that has been taken to resolve the issues identified in the last report.

“We’ll continue to work with school leaders, CHET and the CASSA (Cambridge and Suffolk Schools Alliance) Teaching School to ensure rapid progress is made in strengthening the leadership of the school and having a smooth transition to being an academy which will take place in September this year.”