SCHOOL leaders say they are "extremely disappointed" after a damning Ofsted report found "serious failings" over care at a special school. 

Lexden Springs, in Stanway, has been rated inadequate by the education watchdog following an inspection of the school’s social care provision.

Inspectors raised concerns about staff failing to establish the cause of bruises on a child and not taking further action when a child had contact with an "unsuitable adult". 

The school, in Winstree Road, cares for pupils with special educational needs, severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism.

It has been downgraded from its last inspection in 2022, where its social care provision was rated good.

Social care inspector Rachel Watkinson noted there were “serious failures which mean children and young people are not protected”.

The report noted the experiences and progress of children and young people as well as how well they are helped and protected were both inadequate.

On the experience and progress, it said: “The lift in one house has not worked for several weeks and actions taken to resolve this issue have been unsuccessful.

“This has meant on several occasions one child has not been able to access the residential provision.”

It was also said children’s engagement in the community is “limited”, as are faith-based activities, noting children were not given opportunities to explore different faiths and religious beliefs.

Gazette: Boss - Lexden Springs headteacher Simon WallBoss - Lexden Springs headteacher Simon Wall (Image: N/A)

The report also gave a damning view of the school’s safeguarding.

It said: “Staff, managers and designated safeguarding leads have failed to follow the school’s safeguarding policy.

“Safeguarding concerns have not been escalated immediately. On several occasions, staff have failed to take prompt action to establish the cause of bruises or unusual marks on a child’s body.

“As a result, effective measures to reduce these risks have not been identified or implemented.

“Staff have failed to act appropriately in response to several safeguarding concerns.

“Concerns about a child’s contact with an unsuitable adult were not communicated to the relevant professionals, despite staff being aware of the risk.

“As a result, the risks were not explored, leaving the child at risk of potential harm.”

Despite this, the inspector did note children do have “positive and enjoyable experiences” at the school.

Staff were also praised for their “strong and established” relationships with children.

School and council working to improve following "disappointing" report

Lexden Springs said it acknowledged areas which need to be addressed following the “disappointing report” and is working to make the “necessary improvements” as “quickly as possible”.

A spokesman said: “The outcome of the latest Ofsted inspection of our social care provision is extremely disappointing.

“Although the report does highlight some positives in respect of the support we offer, we acknowledge there are significant areas which need to be addressed and we are committed to learning from these.

“The safety and wellbeing of our pupils remains our priority and we are working to action the areas identified and make the necessary improvements as quickly as possible.

“Parents and carers will be kept up to date as this improvement work progresses.”

Gazette: Meeting - county councillor Tony Ball pictured with Witham MP Dame Priti Patel, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, and Chelmsford MP Vicky FordMeeting - county councillor Tony Ball pictured with Witham MP Dame Priti Patel, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, and Chelmsford MP Vicky Ford (Image: Essex County Council)

Education boss at Essex County Council Tony Ball added: “We are aware of the recent Ofsted rating given to Lexden Springs Residential Special School.

“This is in relation to their social care support only.

“Due to the recent decision of the governing body to step down, an Interim Executive Board is now in place to work alongside the school’s leadership team as they seek to make the necessary improvements. 

“The focus of this board will be safeguarding and wellbeing.”