'Significant reset' at Nottinghamshire school criticised for restraining pupils

A general view of Derrymount School in Churchmore Lane, Arnold, Nottingham. One of the two sites the school operates at
A general view of Derrymount School in Churchmore Lane, Arnold, Nottingham. One of the two sites the school operates at -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

A Nottinghamshire school criticised for "depriving pupils of their liberty and dignity" has seen a "significant reset" in its approach to challenging behaviour, Ofsted has said. Derrymount School was branded 'inadequate' by the regulator last July after an inspection found an overreliance of physically restraining pupils, detaining them in a secure chill-out room against their will and locking classroom doors.

A report also said staff at the special school, which provides for pupils with moderate learning difficulties across sites in Churchmoor Lane, Arnold and Sherbrook Road, Daybrook, failed to challenge racist and misogynistic language.

A monitoring visit by Ofsted on February 27 and 28 found the unsafe practices were no longer evident, but said improvement work was still in its early stages. It said the school's provision for special educational needs and disability (SEND) pupils was "very weak" and demanded a "complete overhaul".

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Nexus Multi Academy Trust (MAT), which the school is in the process of joining, welcomed the findings but said "there remains a lot of work to do". In the report published on April 25, Ofsted inspector Christine Watkins said: "The unsafe practices that were observed at that time are no longer evident.

"Secure rooms are no longer used to contain pupils against their will. Work is under way to systematically remove inappropriate locks from classroom doors."

She said there was a "significant reset of behaviour expectations", describing the approach as "more restorative, and less punitive". Staff had been trained in the proper use of physical intervention, which they say is improving pupils' ability to remain regulated, Ms Watkins said.

"All of this work is in the very early stages," she added. There is much more to do, to finalise systems and embed staff training."

Derrymount School in Churchmore Lane, Arnold
Derrymount School in Churchmore Lane, Arnold -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

However, Ms Watkins said: "The provision for pupils’ broader SEND needs beyond behaviour remains very weak. There are still large gaps in practice and systems. There is no up-to-date SEND policy or accessibility plan.

"There is no special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) present in school. In those respects, the school is not compliant with statutory requirements.

"Staff have not received sufficient training to understand the breadth of pupils’ needs. Pupils do not benefit from their learning being broken down into small, manageable steps.

"This means that teachers cannot plan appropriately or precisely assess how pupils are progressing. A complete overhaul of the provision for SEND is an urgent priority for the school."

Warren Carratt, chief executive at Nexus MAT, said: "The most recent Ofsted monitoring visit report recognises the hard work of the school community in response to the concerns raised last year. Safeguarding is now effective at the school, and behaviour management practices are much improved.

"We are clear that the school is in the early phases of its improvement journey and there remains a lot of work to do, especially to ensure there is a broad, balanced and ambitious curriculum in place for our learners."

Derrymount School educates 94 children between the age of three to 19. Almost a quarter of its pupils are looked after by the local authority and are placed in foster care and residential care homes.