education

School facing closure for letting homophobic bullying get out of control


Pupils at the secondary school said they didn’t feel safe (Picture: Alamy Live News.)

A school has been given a termination warning notice to close amid reports of widespread homophobic bullying and derogatory language.

The Department for Education handed a warning notice to Ark Kings Academy in Birmingham after a recent Ofsted inspection found that secondary pupils did not feel safe.

The school, which teaches pupils aged three to 16, is part of one of the country’s leading academy chains.

But inspectors deemed it inadequate after coming across numerous issues including commonplace ‘bullying, derogatory language and homophobic behaviours’.

Pupils had ‘no confidence that staff will support them when they raise concerns’, and ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pupils experience repeated discriminatory behaviour against them’, Ofsted found.

The DfE said the school’s leaders had not recognised the issues so they could not take the ‘right steps’ to prevent them.

Pupils quoted in the school’s Ofsted report said there were ‘high levels of bullying and prejudiced behaviour’ which went unrecorded.

They also reported having to ‘tolerate frequent sexual harassment towards them’.

The Department of Education has warned the school it will have to close if improvements aren’t made (Picture: Alamy Live News.)

‘Some pupils, particularly those who identify as LGBT, experience repeated name-calling and prejudiced behaviour. This means that pupils do not feel safe in the school,’ the report said.

Ofsted noted that pupils with special educational needs and disabilities were also more likely to receive sanctions than their peers, with a ‘high and increasing’ number of suspensions.

Inspectors also found problems with attendance and said the academy’s leaders did not make ‘adequate checks’ on pupil absences, while ‘too many pupils are truant from lessons’.

An Ark spokesperson said: ‘Whilst very disappointed with the inspection judgment, we fully accept the findings of the inspection report.

‘We had identified many of the issues prior to the inspection and had taken action to begin to address these ahead of the inspection.

‘That work has gathered pace since, and we are very confident the school will improve rapidly over the coming months.

‘We have appointed an executive principal and a new secondary principal to lead this work and the school will have the support and resources of our large, successful network to ensure all pupils experience a consistently high-quality education.’

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