Glendene Arts Academy placed in special measures after damning Ofsted inspection

Inspectors found serious failings at Glendene Arts Academy, in Easington Colliery school

A picture of school children in a classroom
A picture of school children in a classroom

A County Durham school at the centre of a serious fraud investigation has been placed in special measures after inspectors found a catalogue of failings.

Glendene Arts Academy, in Easington Colliery, was rated “good” by Ofsted as recently as March 2012.

Six months later it became an academy, then earlier this year saw three people arrested over the alleged misspending of £162,000.

Now, inspectors have found a laundry list of worrying issues - including concerns over pupil safety and teaching - at the school which is attended by aged-two to 19-years-old children with learning difficulties, autism and sensory difficulties.

In its latest report Ofstead found that not all of the school governors had undertaken Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly CRB) checks, serious incidents that required children to be physically restrained were not being recorded, and risk assessments for pupils were not always carried out.

Also, some staff and governors had not received child protection training.

Inspectors concluded the school did not safeguard pupils adequately, that pupils - especially those who had the most profound learning difficulties and those who were the most able - did not make enough progress, that there were “gaps in teachers’ knowledge,” and that leadership and communication between bosses and staff was poor.

They also criticised attendance levels and said staff morale was “low.”

In a statement, the school said it was working with Durham County Council to bring about “rapid and sustainable” improvements.

But a spokesman for teaching union the NUT said the report just proved why schools should be under council control.

“The NUT certainly does not want to see any school fail, for the sake of pupils, parents and staff, and the union will continue to offer support to members at Glendene,” a spokesman said.

“This is yet further evidence that the academies and free schools programme is not the answer to raising attainment, rather it is a costly gamble with our children’s education.

“What is needed is for all schools to be democratically accountable to their communities.

“This is best achieved through oversight by local authorities of both the governance of schools and the standard of education they offer.”

Caroline O’Neill, head of education at Durham County Council, said:

“We are already working with the Department for Education to bring about improvement to a number of areas identified by Ofsted, including leadership and governance.

“We have also arranged the temporary support of an outstanding headteacher to provide strong leadership and who will work with the school to prepare and implement a thorough improvement plan.”

Glendene’s latest troubles come just months after Durham Police launched dawn raids on homes in Whitley Bay and Darlington and searched a property in Kenton, Newcastle, in connection with a probe into alleged financial irregularities at the school.

That followed an investigation in November by the Education Funding Agency - part of the Department for Education - into the financial management of the academy.

A married couple, aged 57 and 56, were arrested in Whitley Bay and a 41-year-old man was arrested in Darlington on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud.

All three are on police bail.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer