A SECOND Cumbrian school has been placed into special measures by Ofsted amid fears that its unsecured grounds pose a safety risk to pupils.

Kirkby Stephen Grammar School (KSGS) was found inadequate by inspectors because, according to the education watchdog, it is too accessible to the public.


The decision comes hot-on-the-heels of the Queen Katherine School in Kendal also being placed into special measures after inspectors noted that safeguarding and security needed improving. Senior members at the school said the overall findings were brought down by the 'inadequate ' safeguarding verdict.

QKS is now pressing ahead with £30,000 plans, which include a perimeter fence, to improve security which it believes will be sufficient to satisfy inspectors.

The decision to put KSGS into special measures has angered Simon Bennett, chairman of the school governors, who said: "In essence, all the work of the teachers, the good behaviour of the students, the strong leadership of the headteacher and her team, the clear vision of the governors - all acknowledged in Ofsted’s report - are as nothing compared with the school’s lack of a perimeter fence and locks on the doors.

"The Department of Education does not provide funding for school security infrastructure and barring all but innermost inner city schools this sort of shift of focus of Ofsted will have major unnecessary financial implications for schools everywhere."

The school has challenged the judgement and Mr Bennett added: "We have already drawn up plans to tighten school access but a small school such as this has a very limited budget. Judgements such as this could have catastrophic consequences for many schools in Cumbria. There simply isn’t the cash, or the need, to be turning rural schools into prisons.

"Governors and staff had already assessed the safety of the school site given its location and the rural community it serves and believe we have taken, and continue to take all precautions necessary for our circumstances. Cleary Ofsted has a different agenda.

"It is a failing of the inspection system rather than the school if an overall judgement is defined by a lack of a fence or not enough locks on doors rather than the excellent teaching, leadership, behaviour and outcomes of the school."

The report picked out the leadership of the headteacher for particular praise as well as the work of senior management, governors, department heads, the head of sixth form and the attitude and behaviour of pupils.

Head teacher Ruth Houston said: "While we don't believe students are at significant risk from intruders we will, of course, do what we can to address Ofsted’s concerns but our priority remains to deliver the best teaching we can so that our young people have the best start to their adult lives.

"I am confident that once additional security measures are in place Ofsted will give us the overall judgement our school deserves."

Under special measures the school, which has been an academy since 2011, will now receive regular visits from an inspector until Ofsted is satisfied that its security concerns have been addressed and another full inspection can take place.

Despite two schools in the space of a month being placed in special measures, with safety high on the agenda for inspectors, Ofsted says it remains the case that the lack of one particular safeguarding measure will not necessarily result in an inadequate finding.

A spokesperson said: "Inspectors look at a wide range of evidence when evaluating the effectiveness of safeguarding in schools, and they will not normally find safeguarding to be ineffective because of a single shortcoming, such as site security.

“We do not have particular expectations about how a school manages issues around site security, although we would expect such risks to be properly considered and managed. The way each school approaches safeguarding will be determined by the school itself, according to local circumstances."