A PRIVATE North Yorkshire school has been given a notice to improve by the Government following an emergency inspection which had raised concerns about safeguarding and shortcomings in the checks in place for new members of staff.
The Independent Schools Inspectorate Report into Queen Ethelburga’s College and the Faculty of Queen Ethelburga’s also raised concerns about the use of 700 CCTV cameras on the site and warned their use in the early years section was inappropriate.
An emergency inspection took place at the school in Thorpe Underwood, between Harrogate and York, in March this year and a follow up visit took place in June. The Department for Education (DfE) issued a notice to improve on the schools in July which remains in place.
The school’s headmaster Stephen Jandrell said: “A full action plan was submitted within two weeks of the report being received. All the points raised in the report were fully attended to within weeks of the start of term and we await the re-inspection to bring the matter to a satisfactory close.”
The DfE said: “We asked the Independent Schools Inspectorate to carry out an emergency visit to Queen Ethelburga’s following concerns that had been shared with us. We served a notice to improve on the school in July requiring them to put in place an action plan to quickly resolve the failings that were found.” The two schools are part of the Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate Foundation.
An unannounced emergency visit took place at the request of the DfE which focused on the schools’ compliance with Independent School Standards Regulations.
The ISI report found that some standards were not being met in relation to the welfare, healthy and safety of pupils, in relation to the suitability of staff and supply staff and in relation to the quality of leadership and management at the school.
However standards were being met in the quality of education, provision of information, premises and accommodation and the way complaints were dealt with.
The ISI report says the safeguarding policies were not well understood by staff. It also said arrangements for the annual review of the safeguarding policy were unsatisfactory.
In its findings on leadership and management the ISI adds:”Leadership and management have not consistently undertaken their responsibilities in relation to the safeguarding policy”.
It also said the extensive use of CCTV surveillance - was causing some pupils and parents concern. It added that the use of CCTV in the Early Years section without sufficient controls “as observed on both visits” was inappropriate.
The ISI said there were 700 cameras in the school but not in boarding houses or designated pupil changing areas. The report says the school’s CCTV policy, access to images and placement of cameras had been reviewed following the unannounced visit but said the outcome of this review was not known. When the Yorkshire Post asked specifically about the outcome of the review of the camera policy the school said this was covered in Mr Jandrell’s statement.
The report says the school introduced cameras during the bird flu epidemic when boarding houses had to be closed, so students could receive lessons streamed. It said they had remained as a security measure, and to protect teachers, students and property.
The ISI said at the unannounced visit the school’s single central register of appointments did not meet standards because of “failures to carry out barred list checks on staff before they started work and when CRB/DBS were delayed and because there were no barred list entries when DBS checks were delayed.”
However the report says that the school had made considerable progress rectifying these issues when the second visit took place. It said barred list checks were now carried out and the person responsible for the central register was implementing an action plan to ensure employment checks had been undertaken and recorded.