Sunderland’s newest special school rated inadequate and placed in special measures

Headteacher Gary Mellefont outside North View Academy.
Headteacher Gary Mellefont outside North View Academy.

Sunderland’s newest special needs school has been slammed by Ofsted bosses.

Inspectors visited North View Academy, which opened in 2012 in a new £4.2million building, and rated it as inadequate, placing it in special measures.

The academy staff are resilient and determined that this process will indeed make us stronger in the future

Gary Mellefont

The education watchdog said leadership is inadequate and staff are not using restraint techniques and guidelines properly.

They said the principal at the St Luke’s Road school, which caters for primary aged youngsters with emotional and behaviour problems, has an “overly positive view of the school” and governors are not holding leaders to account for the safety and welfare of pupils.

However, the school says despite being disappointed with the report, they are confident of making rapid changes.

In their report, the inspectors said: “Leaders do not provide clear guidance to staff about the use of sanctions, physical restraint or involuntary seclusion.

“Safeguarding is ineffective. Leaders do not ensure that staff use the least restrictive methods of supporting pupils who exhibit challenging behaviour.”

The inspectors said expectations of what pupils can achieve are too low and teaching is variable and pupils do not make good progress.

However, they said pupils’ attendance improves when they start at North View, they develop good attitudes to learning because of positive relationships with staff and the vast majority of parents appreciate the work of the school and report positive changes to their child when they start there.

They said: “Staff are skilled at forming positive relationships that help pupils to settle quickly.

“Many pupils make strong progress in their personal and social development, including learning how to manage the impact of their mental health needs.

“Staff work effectively with pupils, parents and secondary schools to ensure that pupils are prepared for the move to their next school. The individual support that most pupils receive is well matched to their needs.”

Gary Mellefont, headteacher at North View Academy, said: “The inspection did highlight some concerns and we are addressing these, particularly around governance, aspects of safeguarding and the leadership of the school.

“Although we are hugely disappointed with this report from Ofsted, for our pupils, parents and carers, the academy staff are resilient and determined that this process will indeed make us stronger in the future and allow us to get back to being a good school.

“A school which in the future provides the very best we can for our pupils, parents and carers and for all the future stakeholders at the academy.”

Avril Godfrey, chairman of governors, said governors are committed to tackling the highlighted issues to ensure the quality of education for the pupils is the best it can be.

She added: “The school, with the support of parents and carers and support partnerships from school to school support networks, will work tirelessly on identified areas for improvement and we are confident that we can make the changes needed in order to move forward.”