A PRIVATE special needs school has been hit with a damning report by the education watchdog, two years after it was told it ‘requires improvement’. 

Grateley House School, which caters for children with Asper Syndrome and other similar conditions, was visited by Ofsted inspectors on June 5 to 7 this year and was given the same rating, with a report saying the school is “less effective than it could or should be”. 

The school, which charges an annual fee of £141,780 for boarding students and a £70,890 fee for day students, requires improvement in its leadership and management. 

In a report published on July 4, inspectors said there was “continued turbulence” in staffing and vacancies, adding: “leaders have not secured the confidence of a considerable amount of pupils, parents and staff who have reservations about the school’s effectiveness.

“The morale among care staff, in particular, is low. The concerns expressed are now always well founded, but the communication from leaders has not been as clear or strong as it could be to provide greater reassurance.” 

Another area of concern was the outcomes for pupils, with inspectors “progress is patchy” which was “hampering their personal development and attendance”. 

The report states: “Even considering pupils’ complex needs, with more consistent and targeted tackling of barriers affecting their readiness to learn, academic progress could reasonably be stronger.” 

Despite promising inspectors that a plan would be in place to address concerns raised at its last inspectors, Ofsted said that the school had not “secured enough improvement to secure the overall quality that pupils deserve”. 

It added that while some houses have “excellent facilities” others have no access to outdoor space and layouts that mean that “unobtrusive supervision by staff is difficult to achieve”.

However, some of the school’s work was praised by the inspectors with the report saying: “Staff and leaders are committed to the young people in their care. They work tirelessly often in challenging circumstances.”

It also highlighted the school’s sixth form provision due to the “strong leadership and much better attendance rates”.

“Students benefit from highly individualised programmes of vocational or academic courses, or a combination of both.”

And inspectors applauded the quality of teaching, learning and assessments, stating: “When pupils successfully attend and take part in lessons, they benefit from strong teaching.”

A school spokesman said: “We are disappointed with our recent Ofsted inspection and rating. 

"Despite the report highlighting some key strengths, we know we have work to do and recognise the challenges to return the school to the standard that we expect.

“We have started to make changes immediately and we expect these to benefit the school when the new school year starts.”