Safeguarding concerns at 'outstanding' Atam Academy in Chadwell Heath

Atam Academy will be closed until Monday for a deep clean. Photo: Tajpal Dhamu

Ofsted inspectors found fault with Atam Academy's safeguarding policy after concerns were raised to the regulator. - Credit: Archant

A Chadwell Heath school was found to have safeguarding issues by Ofsted, following an emergency inspection after concerns were raised to the regulator.

Atam Academy, which was given the top grade in all areas in 2019, will retain its 'Outstanding' rating until Ofsted can resume normal inspections which have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a monitoring visit on November 19, inspectors found that safeguarding was not effective but said no children were at risk and that pupils feel safe at the school.

The Sikh denomination free school has since appointed a "highly experienced" executive headteacher, David Martin, and has vowed to take "swift action" to address the issues identified.

Prior to the inspection, Redbridge Council officers were "prevented from carrying out their duties and were asked to leave" and in another visit reported "a lack of access to key documents."

Khalsa Academies Trust, which runs the school, disputed this but Ofsted said: "Nevertheless, this is a serious concern."

Chairwoman of trustees Shaminder Rayatt said the trust has taken swift action to address the concerns including appointing...

Chairwoman of trustees Shaminder Rayatt said the trust has taken swift action to address the concerns including appointing a new executive headteacher with a proven track record of making quick and sustained improvement at schools. - Credit: Khalsa Academies

Ofsted found that trust leaders did not have a good enough grasp of safeguarding in the school and did not oversee day--to-day safeguarding practice effectively.

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Inspectors scrutinised the single central record and found it to be compliant but that "a couple" of section 128 checks, which checks the names of individuals who are barred from managing schools, were not included.

Ofsted said the school had taken measures immediately prior to its inspection to address safeguarding issues but it was too soon to evaluate their impact.

The school was closed on Thursday and Friday last week for a deep clean over fears of the coronaviru

In March parents held a protect demanding independence from the trust after the turnover of entire governing body - Credit: Archant

Shaminder Rayatt, chairwoman of trustees, said: "The academy has taken swift action to address the issues identified in the recent Section 8 Ofsted report and has put in place immediate and focused measures for improvement in areas of perceived weakness."

She added that the appointment of Mr Martin as the new executive headteacher on January 4 showed it "had the right team in place to bring the stability and focus required to meet the very high expectations we have for this school."

Ofsted said it would prioritise the school to undergo a full section 5 inspection once routine inspections resume.

A spokesperson for the Atam Academy parent board said it was extremely concerned with Ofsted's findings and feel that recent developments in relation to turnover of the school leaders and governors "has had a significant impact on the education provision.

"As parents we are disappointed that lessons have clearly not been learnt by the trust as similar safeguarding issues were also faced at another school run by the same Trust in Stoke Poges (Khalsa Secondary Academy). We feel it is entirely misleading for the trust to still continuously claim the school can be 'outstanding' when Ofsted have found safeguarding to be ineffective."