A headteacher is taking swift action following a ‘bitterly disappointing’ Ofsted inspection which rated the school inadequate.

The Ofsted rating of Accrington Benjamin Hargreaves Voluntary Aided Church of England Primary School, in Barnfield Street, Accrington, plummeted from good to inadequate following the inspection over two days in May.

The school was rated inadequate in all areas apart from ‘personal development’ which was rated as requires improvement.

Major issues with poor teaching, safeguarding and pupil welfare, bad behaviour, poor leadership, and ineffectual professional development were raised by inspectors in the report.

In response to the report, Lesley Pemberton, who took up post as acting headteacher – replacing Julie Nicol – on September 1, speaking on behalf of the school including the governing board, said: "Naturally, everyone at the school is bitterly disappointed with the inspector's findings and the overall rating of the latest Ofsted inspection.

"A strong leadership team is now in place and we have taken swift action to address the inspectors findings and the first phase of a detailed School Improvement Plan is already in action.

 "We would like to reassure parents that we are committed to providing a high-quality education for our children."

In the report, Ofsted inspectors said: “Pupils experience an unambitious curriculum that is not taught well.

“Leaders do not have high enough expectations of what pupils can and should achieve. Consequently, pupils do not achieve well.

“Leaders do not safeguard pupils effectively. At times, they do not take swift action in response to concerns about pupils’ welfare.

“A few pupils experience repeated incidents of bullying. This is because teachers’ actions sometimes do not put a stop to the bullying that occurs.

“Leaders and governors are not alert to, or acting on, any unresolved bullying issues because they lack sufficient oversight in these areas.

“Leaders do not have high expectations for pupils’ behaviour. Pupils regularly experience low-level disruption to their learning.”

Safeguarding was not effective, Ofsted said, with reporting of concerns inconsistent and issues “lost or forgotten”, with staff not confident in the leadership at the time’s ability to act on concerns.

Issues at the school had been raised at a previous inspection but not addressed, and slow attempts to improve the curriculum had been compounded by staff turnover.

Ofsted said leaders at the time, and governors, “do not have the capacity, expertise or knowledge to improve the quality of education” and were heavily reliant on the local authority for help.

Teachers were ill-equipped to spot gaps in children’s learning and not properly supervised in lesson planning, “leading to disconnected lessons, preventing children from achieving well”.

Phonics teaching was highlighted as particularly poor, impeding reading development, as was handling of pupils’ behaviour.

“Leaders have not made their behaviour expectations clear to staff or to pupils,” the report said, “and many of the lessons that inspectors visited were disrupted by low-level misbehaviour.”

The governors were criticised as ineffective and unaware of the school’s issues and not doing their job adequately, and staff morale was seen to be low.

Awareness of supporting children with special education needs or disabilities was good, inspectors noted, but SEND children were held back by the issues facing the full school population.

The school was told, to improve, it needs to keep pupils safe and improve its record keeping.

Governors and leaders were told to take urgent action to do their job properly to tackle bullying, misbehaviour and stop being reliant on the council for help, and to challenge and support each other, with governors in particular urged to drastically improve their performance.

Teaching of the curriculum as a whole needs to improve significantly to address gaps in learning, with more support for teachers to ensure they are meeting children’s needs, learning is coherent through the school and to improve morale and tackle workload.

Pupil’s personal development must also seriously improve, particularly in the learning of British values, developing their talents and interests, understanding of other cultures, and improved physical education.