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Derogatory language and homophobic bullying ‘common’ in top academy chain school

(Barrington Coombs/PA)
(Barrington Coombs/PA)

A school that is part of one of the country’s leading academy chains has been given a termination warning notice to close amid reports of homophobic bullying and derogatory language.

The Department for Education handed a warning notice to Ark Kings Academy in Birmingham after a recent Ofsted inspection found that secondary pupils did not feel safe, while “bullying, derogatory language and homophobic behaviours are commonplace”.

Pupils had “no confidence that staff will support them when they raise concerns”, and “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pupils experience repeated discriminatory behaviour against them”, Ofsted found.

The DfE said the school’s leaders had not recognised these issues so they could not take the “right steps” to prevent them.

In the school’s Ofsted report, pupils said there were “high levels of bullying and prejudiced behaviour” which went unrecorded.

“Pupils feel that they have to tolerate the frequent sexual harassment towards them,” the report said.

It added: “Some pupils, particularly those who identify as LGBT, experience repeated name-calling and prejudiced behaviour. This means that pupils do not feel safe in the school.”

Ofsted noted that pupils with special educational needs and disabilities were also more likely to receive sanctions than their peers, with a “high and increasing” number of suspensions.

It judged the academy, which educates pupils aged three to 16, to be inadequate, and said school leaders did not make “adequate checks” on pupil absences, while “too many pupils are truant from lessons”.

An Ark spokesperson said: “Whilst very disappointed with the inspection judgment, we fully accept the findings of the inspection report.

“We had identified many of the issues prior to the inspection and had taken action to begin to address these ahead of the inspection. That work has gathered pace since, and we are very confident the school will improve rapidly over the coming months.

“We have appointed an executive principal and a new secondary principal to lead this work and the school will have the support and resources of our large, successful network to ensure all pupils experience a consistently high-quality education.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “We will be considering next steps for Ark Kings Academy in light of evidence submitted by the trust to demonstrate their capacity to secure rapid and sustained improvement.

“All decisions we take in these situations are with the best interests of pupils and school communities in mind, and we will be in close contact with the school and trust over the course of the process.”

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