A special school has been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted amid some ‘serious concerns’ over safeguarding.
Littlegreen, in Compton, underwent a two-day inspection in November and the findings were published on January 4.
Littlegreen had been rated ‘good’ following an inspection in 2012 and inspectors said repeated changes of headteacher had ‘hampered efforts to improve the school’.
They acknowledged the work of new headteacher Pamela Ridgwell, who joined the school in September and had ‘correctly and unapologetically made safeguarding the top priority’.
A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said ‘swift action’ had been taken to tackle the serious weaknesses identified by Ofsted, with a full safeguarding review having already taken place and its findings being acted upon.
She added: “The county council has worked with the school to ensure a robust action plan which provides appropriate challenge and support to the school and will secure rapid progress is in place. This will be closely monitored.”
Littlegreen caters for children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties, as well as learning difficulties.
In his report, inspector Clive Dunn said pupils’ behaviour was too often ‘unruly and unsafe’, adding: “A minority of pupils show disregard for their own and others’ safety, which results in pupils being routinely at unacceptable and unnecessary risk of harm.”
In addition, a ‘significant minority’ of pupils said they did not feel safe at school, while some parents and staff also expressed concerns about safeguarding.
Mr Dunn said that, academically, pupils had made progress but the quality of teaching, learning and assessment was ‘too variable’.
He added: “In some classes, pupils are enthused because work is interesting and pitched at the right level.
“In other classes, teaching and tasks do not motivate some pupils to try.”
He saw ‘evident strengths in the quality of teaching and some consistently effective practice’ at the school and said pupils showed pride in their work and the way it was presented.
Mr Dunn recognised that Miss Ridgwell had ‘rapidly identified’ aspects of the school that needed attention, and the work she and her senior leaders had carried out to address them.
But he noted some staff ‘lack confidence’ in changes to the school’s ethos and policies introduced to promote positive behaviour.
As such, they were not ‘applied consistently or wholeheartedly’.
The council spokesman said a number of measures had now been put in place at Littlegreen.
They included an application to replace the governing body with an interim executive board.
In addition, an experienced special school headteacher was selected to work closely with the leadership team as a consultant ‘to rapidly secure improvements’.
The National Autistic Society was delivering behaviour management training alongside the West Sussex learning behaviour and support team.
The spokesman said: “The focus for the school and the county council is now to ensure that pupils receive the very best start in life, through securing improvements identified in a rapid, sustainable way.”