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School in Wembley downgraded in latest Ofsted report

A school in Wembley has been downgraded to the lowest possible Ofsted rating, leading some parents to ‘lose confidence’ in it. Byron Court Primary School has slumped from outstanding to inadequate, with racism said to be ‘used casually’ by pupils as part of day-to-day conversations.

Located on Spencer Road in Wembley, Byron Court provides education to 872 pupils, ranging from ages four to eleven. It was given an outstanding rating when it was last inspected in 2012, but a scathing report following inspections on November 28 and 29 last year highlighted the school’s ‘marked deterioration’.

The school had been exempt from routine inspections until 2020 so there had been a longer gap than usual between visits. The report noted ‘significant changes’ at the school since the last inspection, leaving it with ‘insufficient capacity’ to run effectively and too much responsibility being held by too few people.

Pupils’ behaviour and attitudes are said to have ‘significantly declined’ over time. In lessons, students disrupt their own learning and that of others, whilst break-times are described as ‘chaotic’ even when there is a member of staff on duty.

Some pupils, parents, and carers all raised concerns about bullying but feel they are not dealt with properly by staff and the behaviour continues. Other serious cases of bad behaviour, including racism and sexual harassment, are ‘not thoroughly dealt with or followed up’, according to the report. The use of racist language has been ‘normalised’, with too few steps being taken to crack down on it.

Inspectors criticised the school’s ‘turbulent leadership’, which they claimed has led to a ‘sharp decline in standards’ in all aspects of school life. Management was said to be ‘overloaded by the scale and amount of work needed’ to improve its outcomes, leading to some parents having ‘lost confidence’ in the school and its expectations for their children.

Pupils are ‘not receiving an acceptable standard of education’, including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) who are given ‘too little attention’. Often their needs are ‘not identified and met’, meaning they are not progressing well-enough through the curriculum, according to inspectors.

The school was praised for its range of clubs and school outings available to the pupils, as well as for its successful work alongside parents to improve attendance and staff are positive about the support they receive with their well-being.

The school has also taken steps to address the curriculum deficiencies but the leadership is said to have been ‘severely hampered’ in its ability to deliver the curriculum well due to reduced staffing numbers.

Ahead of a follow up visit, inspectors recommended that all staff receive further training so they have the expertise to meet pupils’ needs and make sure that suitable leadership arrangements are in place. They also suggested the school focus on improving behaviour by reviewing its policies and practices, as well as making improvements to the curriculum.

Richard Sternberg, the acting headteacher at Byron Court, accepted that the improvements outlined in the report ‘must be addressed urgently’. He added: “The leadership team and governors have already started making significant improvements to ensure that the school provides the best possible learning environment for children.”

A spokesperson for Brent Council, the school’s local authority, said: “Since the recent Ofsted inspection of Byron Court Primary School in November 2023, the local authority has been working closely with the school’s leadership team to address the issues raised.”

They added: “A new Chair and Vice Chair of Governors are now in place following the resignation of the previous Chair and Vice Chair. Our absolute priority is the wellbeing of the school’s pupils who deserve the best quality education.”

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