Inspector calls for action to address safeguarding concerns at Middleton school

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More work is needed to tackle a culture of “low expectations and negative responses” at a West Norfolk village school, says an education inspector.

The warning was delivered in a letter to bosses of the Middleton CE Primary Academy, which also demanded improvements to safeguarding procedures which it said were not effective.

But the school’s sponsor, the Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust (DNEAT), said measures were already being taken to address the issues.

The concerns have emerged following the publication of a letter to the school from Ofsted inspector Tracy Fielding.

She called for full implementation of new child protection procedures, better record keeping in relation to pupil behaviour and referrals to outside agencies, plus improved communication with parents.

The letter said current paperwork was insufficient to ensure that the needs of vulnerable pupils were being met and pre-recruitment checks on staff were carried out fully.

It also said the attitude of many pupils was “not good enough”, though the inspector acknowledged there were signs of improvement, following the implementation of measures including a zero tolerance to misbehaviour and the introduction of new lunchtime activities.

The inspector said: “Historically, the school has not adapted well enough to meet the needs of all pupils and the behaviours have become a part of the school’s culture of low expectations and negative responses.

“You and the head of school are determined that this will be changed and a start has been made to achieving this.

“However, there is a lot of hard work required to ensure that the expectations of staff, governors, pupils and parents are transformed, so that provision is strengthened by mutual trust, loyalty and strong commitment.”

A DNEAT spokesman said: “We take the outcome of this report extremely seriously as we aim to provide all the children in our care with an excellent education as well as a safe, secure and enjoyable place to grow and learn.

“We also believe that our staff deserve to work in an environment where they are treated respectfully.

“The Ofsted inspector found that the academy historically had a culture of low expectations and negative pupil responses. She also stated that recording systems and procedures for some aspects of safeguarding were not robust enough.

“The recommendations made by Ofsted have been recognised and are already being acted upon.”