CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Hampstead private school hit by highly-critical Ofsted report

Inspectors warn that staff at Heathside Prep do not know how to 'keep pupils safe'

01 November, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Some classes at Heathside Prep are taught in the upper floors of the Old White Bear pub

A HIGHLY critical report by inspectors into the conditions at a Hampstead private school has reported that staff do not know how to “keep pupils safe”.

Heathside Prep School, which has a series of sites around New End, said it was “disappointed” by Ofsted’s findings and said measures were already in place to deal with concerns raised by inspectors.

After visiting the school in September, Ofsted reported that a number of buildings used for teaching were unsafe, record-keeping for child protection was inconsistent and lacking in detail, and that an incident on a residential trip had seen leaders fail to consider risks to pupils or make arrangements for first aid medication.

The report added that 27 pupils left at the end of the summer term but the local authority was not told of their whereabouts, and nor were staff updating the registers. Pupils, aged from nursery age to 14, are taught in sites including spaces shared with a synagogue, a territorial army barracks, a Heath Street shop and the first floor of the now-empty Old White Bear pub in New End.

Costing up to £18,000 a year per pupil, it has more than 500 children on its roll. The report said: “Leaders and staff do not know how to keep pupils safe,” and called the Lower School site in Heath Street “not safe and secure,” adding that classrooms had not been checked for their suitability for teaching.

Ofsted has visited the school three times in five months, and in its latest report said: “The proprietor has not made sure sites used for middle school pupils are suitable for use as a school.” It added: “The leadership has failed to create a culture in which staff feel able to raise concerns or are confident that their concerns will be taken seriously by the proprietor.”

Camden National Education Union secretary Gerald Clark said the school did not have a governing body and this contributed to management problems. He said: “I have never seen a school fail so many basic safeguarding issues so comprehensively. This shows how important it is that every school has strong accountability through a governing body. Who is holding the school management to account?”

The school’s headteacher and owner Melissa Remus Elliot told the New Journal: “While we respect Ofsted’s independence and expertise, we are disappointed with the report. We remain committed to pupil safety and welfare with the highest priority. We have taken immediate steps to resolve the issues highlighted. The rapid growth of the school has posed a number of practical challenges, but we remain committed to providing the best possible education for our pupils in a happy and secure environment.”

She said that an operational review of the school was already under way, adding: “The safety, happiness and wellbeing of our pupils remains our top priority.”

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