Gloucestershire school slammed by Ofsted over bullying to get new managers

A school where pupils were bullied and which was deemed to be inadequate by Ofsted is to get new managers. Control of The Peak Academy in Dursley is set to switch from the White Horse Federation to Reach South Academy Trust in June this year.

It follows the special school for children with social, emotional and mental health needs being found to be underperforming by the education watchdog’s inspectors who visited in June 2021. The school’s overall effectiveness and leadership and management were deemed to be inadequate while the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes and personal development were said to require improvement.

Ofsted discovered there had been bullying, including frequent name-calling, and that leaders did not respond appropriately when pupils, parents or carers had concerns about incidents at the school. Before the watchdog’s criticism, in February 2020, the school was also in the news after two staff were suspended following an incident in October 2019 involving pupils that Gloucestershire police said they would investigate.

READ MORE: Gloucestershire school where children are bullied rated inadequate by inspectors

But now school bosses hope its future will be brighter. A spokesman for the White Horse Federation said: “Earlier this year the Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West, Hannah Woodhouse, requested that The Peak Academy should be transferred to another multi-academy trust after an Ofsted inspection in June 2021 found the school to be underperforming.

“Reach South Academy Trust was identified as the most suitable trust to manage the school going forward. They possess both the expertise and skills as well as having a proven track record and capacity to ensure that improvements will be rapid and sustained.

“It’s expected that the Peak Academy will officially become a newest member of Reach South Academy Trust in June this year. Both multi-academy trusts are in agreement that ensuring a smooth transfer is a top priority for the school.

READ MORE: Gloucestershire health care worker slapped patient ‘after losing his temper over shift swap’

“The White Horse Federation’s Paul Holroyd is now the interim principal of the Peak Academy during this transfer period. Mr Holroyd has experience in both special schools and such transfer matters.

“He is the ideal candidate to manage the transition to Reach South Academy Trust. Stacia Petterson, who had been interim principal, was in post via a supply agency on a non-permanent basis. We’d like to thank Ms Petterson for her assistance during the last nine months and wish her well in the future.

“Governors, staff, parents and pupils have all been informed and we will continue to communicate with them providing updates on progress and further information as it becomes available. We have every confidence that Reach South Academy Trust will take the Peak Academy forward and we will do whatever it takes to assist them in this endeavour.”

READ MORE: The Gloucestershire primary schools rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted

The spokesman added that no formal charges had been brought against staff following the October 2019 incident.

Dean Ashton, chief executive of Reach South Academy Trust, said: “At Reach South, we have a rock-solid belief in our young people and a determination to support them to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to become successful citizens. Everything we do is focused on the single-minded objective of delivering an exceptional education for children and helping all pupils to achieve beyond the expectations that others may place on them.

“The Peak Academy is clearly a school that cares deeply about its pupils and we are looking forward to working closely with the team to build on these important foundations.”


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