Inspectors slam special school

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A COTMANHAY special school has been put under special measures after an inspection.

Bennerley Fields Specialist Speech and Language School has been blasted for weaknesses in teaching and learning, forcing staff and governors to take immediate steps to raise standards.

This week, headteacher Debbie Gerring, who had only been in the job a month when the inspection took place in January and February, assured parents that an action plan is ‘well underway’ to help improve the school.

“The past couple of years have been an unsettled time for the school,” she explained.

“But we’re now looking ahead and putting pupils and their learning at the heart of our future plans.

“It is my mission to take the school forward and build on the good and outstanding practice of staff, which is recognised in the report.

“We will ensure teaching and learning is excellent across the board and underpinned by an aspirational ethos for all our students.”

OFSTED inspectors did, however, praise the school’s ‘outstanding progress, leadership and management’ for its youngest pupils.

The report said the behaviour and safety of the school’s 82 pupils, aged from two to 16, were satisfactory and the curriculum ‘meets the needs of pupils’.

It recommended that the school ensures the school ‘consistently focus on raising pupils’ achievement’ and robustly monitors students’ performance.

They also advised that pupils should be given more opportunities to work independently.

Chair of governors and county councillor Glennice Birkin said improvements were being made.

“We’ve looked closely at all the points raised and are committed to doing everything necessary to implement inspectors’ recommendations and get to where we need to be,” she said.

The action plan has been put in place in consultation with Derbyshire county Council.

Cllr Mike Longden, cabinet member for education, said: “When a school is placed in special measures it will always be a time of concern for parents.

“But our education advisors are going to be working closely with the school’s headteacher and governors to ensure that everything possible is done to drive up standards.”