The regulator, Ofsted, has told the management of the Purbeck View School in Swanage it must not admit any more students following its latest inspection, which found the social care provision to be inadequate.
Ofsted’s social care report published on Friday 3rd September 2021 concluded:
“There are serious and widespread failures that mean children and young people are not protected or their welfare is not promoted or safeguarded and the care and experiences of children and young people are poor and they are not making progress.”
This report is separate from Ofsted’s school report that inspects the education provision, which in January 2019 was graded as good.
Purbeck View School is a privately-owned residential school for students from age seven to 19 with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. In 2019 it was reported that annual fees for day pupils, so not including accommodation costs, was £80,534.
As a residential school, the accommodation is classified as a children’s home and is inspected by Ofsted to ensure standards of care are met. The majority, if not all the costs for students, are met by local authorities.
“We restricted the home’s registration“
A spokesperson for Ofsted said:
“In terms of the action we’ve taken – as a result of the latest inspection we restricted the home’s registration, which means that it cannot admit any more children until the restriction is lifted. We will continue to monitor the home’s performance.”
Social care failings
In the report, the Ofsted inspection team found failings in the level of staffing, the maintenance and safety of the accommodation and the management of the home.
Severe staffing crisis
On staffing the report said:
“Children’s safety is compromised because of severe staffing shortages. Children who should be receiving increased staff support, as agreed in their care plans, have not been receiving this support consistently, if at all.”
Parents, staff and professionals who contributed to the inspection raised concerns about the high turnover of staff. The views of parents were sought and this was what was reported:
“One parent said she is worried that her child is being looked after by staff who he does not know. The same parent said her child told her that he did not feel safe. Another parent said that there have been several occasions when she has phoned the home and the member of staff looking after her child had limited knowledge about their needs.
“Another parent told the inspectors, ‘In recent months, I have dreaded taking my child back to the home because I do not know who will be looking after him. I am concerned about my child’s safety’.”
There was praise for the permanent staff:
“The permanent staff who work in the homes do know the children well. They genuinely want the best for the children in their care. These staff have worked beyond their contracted hours to ensure, where possible, children are looked after by someone they know and trust. Parents spoke highly of the commitment, stickability and resilience of these staff.”
Commenting on the premises the report said:
“Staff told inspectors that they report maintenance concerns, but they do not know when the work will be completed. The quality and variance of children’s living environment has been raised as a concern in previous inspections. Leaders and managers have not taken adequate action to prioritise making necessary improvements.
The report went onto say:
“Inspectors identified unacceptable health and safety hazards within the children’s living environments. These include, a broken glass window, unsafe portable air conditioning, nails sticking out of a doorway and paddling pools left in a shared garden containing used water.
Management is not effective
The report pointed out that failings in the social care provision at this school were not new:
“This home does not have a good inspection history. Since 2015, the home has not achieved a judgement by Ofsted that is any more than requires improvement. Despite several changes in the senior leadership team during this period, not enough has been done to make and sustain necessary improvements.”
In a stinging conclusion the report said:
“Monitoring of this home by the independent person and managers is not effective. They fail to rigorously identify and tackle the negative impact that staff shortages are having on children’s safety, welfare, and well-being.”
Cambian Education is part of the company CareTech
The report highlights the crisis in the recruitment of care home staff, which is not just a problem at Purbeck View School but an escalating problem across Swanage, Dorset and nationally.
Purbeck View School is run by Cambian Education, which is part of the company CareTech. Jeremy Wiles, CareTech group executive director – children’s services said:
“We have a clear plan to address our staffing challenges, which includes new enhanced pay rates.
“We welcome people who have an interest in making a difference to the lives of young people to get in touch on 01929 422760. With an improvement in staffing, we should be able to recommence student admissions.”
Read the full social care report for Purbeck View School on the Ofsted website