Parents’ anger at ‘blackout’

Herta Barella (left) and Andrea Nagavelly outside of Glendene School
Herta Barella (left) and Andrea Nagavelly outside of Glendene School

PARENTS of children at an under-fire special needs school have hit out – claiming they have been left in the dark about what is going on.

Glendene Arts Academy, in Easington Colliery, has been placed in special measures by education watchdog Ofsted after a catalogue of failings, including some of the governors not being properly vetted and the improvement plan not being fit for purpose.

Ofsted say the Crawlaw Road-based school, for children aged two to 19 with special needs, is inadequate in all areas, and urgent action needs to be taken to improve safeguarding for students.

In their latest report, Ofsted inspectors said problems included the school’s work to keep students safe being inadequate, not all serious incidents that need restraint being recorded, the central record of safe recruitment checks being incomplete and some governors had not undertaken Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.

They said teaching is inadequate, behaviour management inconsistent, attendance is too low and staff morale is low.

It comes after three people connected to the school were arrested earlier this year as part of a fraud investigation into the alleged misspending of £162,000.

Parents at the school say they have asked for a public meeting with school bosses to discuss the situation.

But instead, the school insisted that it would be best to have one-to-one meetings with parents.

Andrea Nagavelly, 47, whose 15-year-old daughter Devin Pugh has learning disabilities and attends the school, said: “We have asked for a meeting, and at first Craig Platt, the acting academy leader, agreed.

“But we then had phone calls from him saying they can’t have a public meeting because of data protection, and that they can’t discuss individual children.

“We are really not happy about this, we are not talking about individual children, we are talking about an Ofsted report, and want to talk about what happened earlier in the year. I think they are just trying to fob us off.”

Andrea, of Dene House, Peterlee, added: “It seems to me they are just trying to brush things under the carpet.

“We don’t get updates or anything, the first we heard about the special measures was from the Mail.

“We are just so worried about our children – we want to know what improvements are being made for their safety.

Mr Platt said: “We can’t talk about individual pupils in a group meeting situation, and if individual parents are asking specific information I don’t think that’s an appropriate forum. I think one-to-one is better and more personal.

“We scheduled a parents’ evening on Wednesday.

“We can’t leak information until it goes public, and that’s unfortunate.”