Ofsted downgrades JFS to ‘inadequate’

In particular inspectors highlighted safeguarding issues relating to inappropriate behaviour and sexual bullying


JFS has been downgraded to “inadequate” overall after inspectors highlighted “deep-rooted and widespread failings in the school’s safeguarding culture.”  

The Jewish secondary - which was rated “good” overall in 2016 - was deemed inadequate across behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management. 

 But Ofsted found the quality of education at the school and its six form provision were “good.”

The school’s safeguarding arrangements were not deemed effective, and leaders “failed to create a culture of openness and mutual respect”, inspectors warned.  

While pupils’ experiences “vary greatly”, many “report sexual bullying, including via social media”, Ofsted said in its report.

“Many pupils” - including victims of harmful sexual behaviour - do not feel confident to report safeguarding concerns, they also found. 

School leaders do not “always take appropriate action to safeguard victims and challenge and support alleged perpetrators,” the report said. 

Leaders did not always inform authorities of matters with potential safeguarding implications and the quality of the school’s record-keeping on concerns were poor, it also said.

While many pupils enjoy positive relationships with staff and other students, “many others feel that leaders have not protected them from the behaviour of some of their peers.”

The school’s personal, social health and economic and relationships and sex curriculum were “not fit for purpose” and do not provide pupils with the knowledge they need. 

Pupils were “not adequately prepared for life in modern Britain and “do not learn enough about LGBT issues”, the report said, highlighting this was also an area of concern flagged in 2016. 

The report criticised school leaders for not recognising the “considerable weaknesses in some aspects” of the provision and said they "do not demonstrate the capacity to bring about the necessary improvements.”

 It also criticised governors for “until recently” lacking sufficient oversight of the school’s work. 

“They have not held leaders to account effectively. A recent restructure of the governing body has resulted in improved oversight. Governors are beginning to challenge and hold leaders to account,” the report said.

 Reacting to the report, the school’s new head Sir Michal Wilshaw said he was “confident” bad behaviour would change. 

 “Many of the children and staff I’ve spoken to at the school since I arrived have complained that bad behaviour isn’t challenged as frequently or as robustly as it should be. 

“That has to change and I’m confident that it will change,” he said.

Andrew Moss, chair of governors, said the school had been “working hard to bring in the necessary expertise to help turn the school around” since it became aware of the initial findings. 

A spokesperson for the United Synagogue said: “This is a very distressing Ofsted report and one which we know will make very troubling reading for parents, students and staff.

"Notwithstanding the positive findings about the school's education and sixth form, the serious failings found by Ofsted demand urgent attention.

"We acknowledge the governors recognise this and have already taken steps to improve safeguarding in particular. We will be working with the school to ensure the programme of improvements continues at pace.”

The report notes that inspectors were made aware during their visit of a serious incident involving a former pupil and separately of “serious allegations of a child protection nature.”

It said it did not have the power to investigate either but that it considered the school’s response and other available evidence in both cases. 

Speaking prior to the report’s release, the school’s Dame Joan McVittie said on Tuesday that a new central system for reporting safeguarding concerns had been set up and that staff had also received “very significant” children’s mental health training. 

The school has also appointed a new senior deputy head, Samantha Chapman, responsible for behaviour and safeguarding, and another deputy head, Paul Ramsey, to join in September. 

A review into student wellbeing being undertaken by University College London professor Peter Fonagy will "help us to identify any gaps in our wellbeing provision and to see where we can enhance the effectiveness of what is already in place,” Mr Moss said Thursday. 

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