Wokingham special needs academy trust 'steps aside'

Northern House School in Wokingham Image copyright GOOGLE
Image caption Northern House School in Wokingham was rated "inadequate" by Ofsted last year

A trust said it will stop running an academy that was criticised for failing to keep special educational needs children safe.

Ofsted assessed Wokingham's Northern House School as "inadequate" following an inspection in October 2018.

The Northern House School Trust said it made the choice to "step aside" due to inadequate funding, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reports.

The council said the school is a "resource we can't lose".

Ofsted rated the school "inadequate" in all four categories it was being assessed on during the inspection.

After assessors witnessed a child on the school building's roof, pupils were said to be at harm as staff failed to control their unsafe behaviour.

'Like a prison'

A pupil's mother, who preferred staying anonymous, said children at times left the school in a worse condition than when they first enrolled.

"I'm not a happy parent. I don't like what's been going on there and I think things need to change drastically," she said, before adding: "It's a bit like a prison."

The trust's chairman, William Powlett Smith, sent a letter to parents saying it has "no control" over the funding system, which is not "reliable".

Northern House School Trust currently runs three other schools in Oxford, Solihull and Wolverhampton.

The trust intends to stop running all of the schools, meaning the Department for Education (DfE) will now need to find new trusts to manage them.

Wokingham Council saw out-of-borough placements contribute to a £2.1 million Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND ) overspend last year.

With a current 113 special needs places, it said the school is a "critical piece to the jigsaw".

It said it would ensure all affected children have their educational needs met and that it would be in contact with the DfE about arrangements for a new trust to take over.

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