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Lichfield school launches legal challenge over critical Ofsted report

A Lichfield school is set to launch legal action after an Ofsted report raised issues around the safeguarding of pupils.

Maple Hayes Dyslexia School was subject to an emergency inspection last year.

A previous inspection in March 2015 had labelled the school as as “good overall with outstanding behaviour and safety of pupils”.

But the latest visit has resulted in a report which raises concerns over safeguarding at the specialist independent school.

Maple Hayes Dyslexia School

Maple Hayes Dyslexia School

Lead inspector Elizabeth Ellis-Martin said the emergency visit had identified problems with the school’s policies not being followed correctly.

She said: “A safeguarding complaint in 2015 was dealt with following the established procedures, but a later safeguarding complaint in 2016 was not. This inspection was put in place because of concerns that complaints regarding safeguarding were not dealt with properly.

“Staff and pupils’ understanding of what to do in the event of a safeguarding concern was limited to telling the headteacher or going to the school office. Pupils’ views about their welfare are only sought on an annual, formal basis.

“Leaders have not made keeping pupils’ safety and welfare a high enough priority.”

But the school says it disputes the contents of the report and has taken steps to launch a legal battle over its contents.

A spokesperson told Lichfield Live: “Maple Hayes was previously inspected in March last year and received an overall good rating, with an outstanding for the behaviour and safety of pupils. Nothing at Maple Hayes has changed.

“The original report stated that our teachers are ‘supportive’, the behaviour of pupils is ‘outstanding’, and safeguarding arrangements are ‘implemented very thoroughly’ and ‘pupils feel safe in school’. The school is therefore obviously very disappointed at the recent Ofsted inspection, which appears to contradict its previous findings, and we fundamentally disagree with the inspector’s conclusions, which is why we have, and will continue to, challenge this report.

“Parents have quite often had to fight battles, when their children have been treated unfairly, in order to have their concerns addressed. We, as a school, also have to take action to ensure there is a fair outcome. This has meant taking legal action against Ofsted.”

The school, which currently accommodates 120 pupils aged between 7 and 17, caters for dyslexic and underachieving students.

It has previously been visited by Princess Beatrice, who officially opened a new part of the school and also spoke of her own battle with dyslexia.

The Maple Hayes spokesperson added that they remained committed to supporting their students: “Pupils come to Maple Hayes after having been failed by mainstream education and are here to overcome fundamental literacy problems.

“The staff are all completely committed to ensuring that this report does not distract from the core purpose of the school, which is to make sure that students receive high quality education in a safe environment.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.