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Bermondsey special needs school ‘not safeguarding vulnerable students’

A Bermondsey school for young people with special educational needs is not doing enough to keep its students safe, according to a report by OFSTED.

In a damning summary to the report, inspectors said of the fee-charging Bridge School that “leadership, management and governance are weak. The proprietor is failing to meet their obligations.”

The school, which is on the Old Kent Road, does not train its staff in effective or up-to-date safeguarding measures, according to the report by the education regulator published in February.

“Staff have completed recent training in safeguarding adults, but not children,” the report said. “Staff at all levels have a poor understanding of the latest statutory guidance.

“The school’s safeguarding policy is available on the school’s website. It did not reflect the latest national guidance and was updated during the inspection.”

Neither do staff have a consistent or agreed way of handling physical situations with students who can become “challenging and violent”, the report said. Staff are not recruited in line with government guidance, with some workers brought in without all the checks required.

The school does not have a risk assessment for its site, despite its vulnerable students being near the busy Old Kent Road, with plenty of traffic coming past at all hours of the day.

Inspectors said that relationships between students and “caring” staff were positive, with teachers providing “structure, routing and predictability”. Attendance is very high and incidents of bullying are dealt with effectively.

The school caters for young people with special educational needs between the ages of 14 and 25.

James Nuttall, headteacher of the Bridge School, did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.


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