‘Tsunami’ of problems uncovered at chaotic Wirral secondary school

CREDIT: This story was first seen in the Liverpool Echo

Pupils regularly miss school at troubled academy, the Liverpool Echo reports.

A Wirral secondary school has been slammed by inspectors after they found almost half its students regularly failed to turn up.

An Ofsted report said the Emslie Morgan Academy had a “tsunami of issues” every day, with pupils often walking out of lessons, swearing at staff and banging on windows.

Inspectors said the pupil referral unit, for students excluded from mainstream schools, was inadequate, dubbing its performance “woeful” and the environment “chaotic”.

Around 100 mainly male pupils attend the school at the Solar Campus on Leasowe Road in Wallasey, which had been rated as good in 2010.

The school was given new powers and new managers took over when it became an academy in 2015 – but Ofsted said they had failed to halt its decline.

The report said teenagers aged 14-16 “routinely” leave school to smoke – and staff said they sometimes even accompanied younger pupils to smoke on the edge of the grounds.

Ofsted inspectors wrote: “The school is chaotic. Staff struggle to deal with pupils’ challenging behaviour, which is endemic across the school.“Pupils use derogatory and aggressive language routinely towards staff and each other.

“All too often pupils refuse to work, walk out of lessons and then move around the buildings disrupting the learning of others

“Individuals and groups are often out of lessons, on corridors or around the school site; shouting, swearing and banging on windows and doors.

“These pupils do not comply with staff requests for them to calm down and rejoin their lessons.

“Pupils are bullied and intimidated by their peers. Almost half the school are persistently absent. Pupils feel no imperative to be on time for school.”

Pupils in one part of the site said almost every lesson was disrupted by other students banging at the door and windows.

Inspectors reported widespread failures in safeguarding, saying there was “no convincing evidence” the school could keep bullying victims safe.

It said there was no evidence staff had done anything about one pupil accused of repeatedly bullying the same victim, or about racist and homophobic incidents.

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The report also highlighted serious problems in teaching and students’ life chances, with nearly a third not in jobs or training months after leaving.

It said: “Pupils are woefully ill-equipped for study, work and everyday life when they leave the school.

“Only a handful of pupils gain a good GCSE pass in any subject. Too many pupils fail to move on to work or training at post-16.

“Far too much teaching is weak, inconsistent and does not meet the pupils’ needs.”

It said teachers, support staff and some leaders had not received the support or training they needed.

The school was also accused of failing in their legal duties to students with special educational needs or disabilities.

Inspectors said there was no system to even identify or assess the needs of such students after they joined.

It said the Liverpool City Region Academy Trust, which took over the school from the council in 2015, had struggled with the “overwhelming” scale of the challenges.

The report added: “The school’s improvement plan is not fit for purpose. Both the trust and the local governing body are failing to arrest the decline in the school’s performance and ensure that pupils are well cared for and safe.”

Cathy Fairclough, chief executive of the trust, said: “Since acquiring the school the Academy Trust has worked tirelessly on developing positive relationships with staff, pupils and parents to improve the experience and opportunities for the young people at Emslie Morgan.

“The Trust is naturally disappointed with the result of the recent inspection but will continue to work alongside the Local Authority and other external agencies to drive forward and raise standards.”

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