Harborough District village secondary school has been branded 'inadequate' in a 'damning and devastating' Ofsted report

A Harborough district village secondary school has been branded “inadequate” in a “damning and devastating” new Ofsted report.

MP Neil O'Brien.
MP Neil O'Brien.

Under-fire Kibworth Mead Academy has been given the worst possible rating by the five-strong Ofsted inspection team in the bombshell study published today (Wednesday).

The Mead Educational Trust, which runs the 864-pupil Smeeton Road school, is now set to be handed a termination warning notice by the Department for Education.

The Leicester-based Trust will face having Kibworth Mead Academy, whose pupils are aged 11-16, taken away from it unless it starts to turn it around quickly.

Some pupils are being accused of racism, sexism, bullying and “harmful sexual behaviour” in the scathing investigation.

Kibworth Mead has gone “backwards” after the last Ofsted report in June 2018 warned that it “requires improvement”.

Fuming Harborough MP Neil O’Brien told the Harborough Mail today: “This is a damning and devastating Ofsted report into this school.

“Kibworth is an affluent area.

“It should have an outstanding school – not a school that’s been declared inadequate and is going into special measures,” said Mr O’Brien.

“This is a shocking situation when some pupils don’t even feel safe there.

“I know for a fact that many parents in Kibworth are totally justifiably very worried about this school – it is unbelievable.

“The Mead Trust took it over in April 2021.

“The culture at the school has been a major problem for some time, it’s been going seriously backwards.

“But I’ve spoken to the new executive principal Mark Oldman and he is committed to making huge improvements.

“Only nine per cent of secondary schools in this country are labelled inadequate,” said Mr O’Brien.

“So for Kibworth Mead Academy to be rated one of the worst schools in England is beyond belief.

“It’s hit rock bottom.

“The ruling Trust will get 15 days after being issued the termination warning notice to present a plan showing how they will turn this school around.

“The school will now be inspected every term – instead of every few years – by Ofsted to make sure that it is getting better.

“We’ve got to see real progress here – or it will be time for someone else to take charge.”

Cllr Phil King, who leads Harborough District Council and lives in Kibworth, told us: “I know that many parents here are very concerned about this school.

“We urgently need positive engagement with Mead Trust officials to help us understand what is going on here.

“This school clearly needs to improve quickly,” said Cllr King, who served as a governor at Robert Smythe Academy and Welland Park Academy in Market Harborough for several years.

“We’ve been told there is a new management team in place at Kibworth Mead.

“Let’s hope that for the sake of the students and their families they can restore the school to its previous good standing as soon as possible.”

The Ofsted inspectors, who visited the school on May 24 and 25, say in their explosive report: “Some pupils are happy at the school but many are not.

“Pupils do not feel safe in all areas of the school because of their experience of the recent past poor behaviour of some. “Leaders do not ensure that pupils at alternative provision attend regularly, are safe and receive a good education.”

They say that “some pupils are not respectful to others and make derogatory comments to those of a different ethnicity or gender”.

“Many pupils say that bullying happens at the school.

“They do not always report bullying or derogatory comments because they are not confident that staff will deal with such incidents effectively.

“Not all pupils are confident that leaders will take their concerns about harmful sexual behaviours seriously.

“In lessons, many pupils work hard and want to do their best. “However, teachers’ expectations of pupils’ behaviour and learning are not consistently high.

“Learning is often disrupted by some pupils’ poor behaviour. “Teachers do not always set pupils work that is sufficiently challenging.

“Many parents are disappointed by a lack of support for pupils. “Other parents are pleased by the new leaders’ efforts to improve the school,” says the Ofsted team.

“The school has gone through a period of turbulence.

“Most senior leaders joined the school very recently.

“They have identified and begun to address significant weaknesses in the quality of the provision.

“This is beginning to have a positive impact on pupils’ experience.

“However, leaders have yet to bring about the necessary improvements to pupils’ behaviour and to creating a culture of effective safeguarding.”

Inspectors also insist that the “curriculum is not sufficiently ambitious”.

“Senior leaders have addressed this in some subjects.

“There is a clear plan in place to ensure that, by September 2022, subject leaders will have identified what knowledge pupils should learn and when in all subjects.

“Teachers have secure subject knowledge.

“They are beginning to use ‘do now’ activities.

“These help pupils to recall and practise what they have learned before.

“However, teachers do not assess well enough what pupils do or do not already know when introducing new learning.

“For example, some teachers do not identify gaps in pupils’ knowledge,” say the inspectors.

“When this is the case, pupils can become confused as they encounter new learning.”

Staff at Kibworth Mead are also being urged to improve teaching for children with special educational needs.

“Support for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) is not always precise enough to enable these pupils to acquire the knowledge and skills that they should,” warns the report.

And the school is being told to improve student discipline.

“Teachers apply the new behaviour policy inconsistently. “Consequently, pupils receive mixed messages about how they should behave.

“They lack confidence in how well leaders deal with some behaviours, including bullying.

“Some pupils disrupt lessons or do not follow instructions from staff,” say the inspectors.

“Leaders have addressed concerns that pupils have about the safe use of toilets.

“However, they have yet to convince all pupils that the toilets are the safe spaces they should be.

“The arrangements for safeguarding are not effective.

“Leaders, including those from the multi-academy trust, have not acted swiftly enough to ensure that they recognise and act on pupils’ concerns.

“It is not always clear what actions leaders take to resolve safeguarding concerns.

“Not all pupils are confident that staff will take their concerns seriously, including about harmful sexual behaviour,” say the Ofsted experts.

The Mead Educational Trust has today been asked for a comment.

You can read the full Ofsted report here: https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50188343