“SERIOUS and widespread failures” were found by inspectors at a school for children with autism who said to be “at risk of harm”.

Ofsted visited Grateley House School, in Pond Lane, Andover from March 9 to 11, and a report published this month has graded it as “inadequate”.

The residential special school for pupils who have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, was found to not protect the children and young people.

The report said: “There are serious and/or widespread failures that mean children and young people are not protected or their welfare is not promoted or safeguarded and/or the care and experiences of children and young people are poor.”

The school, which has 53 pupils on its roll and 40 residential pupils, was graded as “requires improvement to be good” at its previous inspection in 2018.

Ofsted inspectors visiting in March this year found that staff work hard to “understand the pupils as individuals” and help them “to maintain their emotional stability and manage their emotions”.

However, they said that there is a “chronic need for staff to undertake overtime to cover vacancies in order to meet children’s needs”.

They said the reliance of this in the residential provision is “not sustainable in the long term and has the potential of undermining pupils’ progress”.

It added: “The pupils, too, acknowledge the impact of staffing difficulties.”

Along with significant staffing issues, inspectors found “serious shortfalls” in relation to protecting pupils from the risk of harm.

The education watchdog found “serious failures in ensuring that fire safety measures are robustly implemented have resulted in pupils being at risk of harm”.

Senior leaders and managers had not ensured the school’s policy to carry out six fire evacuation drills a year was met. Last year, there was only one unplanned evacuation for the whole site in residential time.

The report said: “Management oversight of maintenance, health and safety and fire protection is poor. There have been instances of staff and pupils tripping and slipping on the site, but repairs have not been undertaken to all the areas to prevent a recurrence of such accidents. The maintenance team has been inadequately supported to fulfil their role of maintaining a safe physical environment to protect pupils from the risk of harm.”

Consent from parents for staff to administer first aid had not been given.

Ofsted inspectors found that physical intervention is “used appropriately by the staff to manage pupils’ behaviour when there is a risk of serious harm to the pupil or others”.

However, they said managers don’t ensure debriefs take place afterwards, resulting in “opportunities to consider what alternative strategies could be implemented to support pupils are thus lost”.

Staff were said to receive regular safeguarding training, and were found by Ofsted to be “diligent in reporting concerns”.

The report said that the head of care “provides strong leadership to the residential staff team”.

However, the team was said to be “significantly affected” by a number of issues including high staff turnover and staff shortages.

Staff were working overtime to cover the shortfall, resulting in their morale being “low”.

“Members of the residential team are dedicated and determined to minimise the impact on pupils,” the report said.

The school was found to not meet the national minimum standard for residential special schools in various areas, including maintaining the premises to a standard to ensure the healthy, safety and welfare of children; running an induction programme for new staff; the governing body monitoring the leadership and management; and implementing a written policy on managing behaviour.

Ofsted gave Grateley House School various recommendations to improve, including ensuring that information to guide staff in managing pupils’ behaviour is clear and accessible; and ensuring that leaders and managers have clear plans to remedy staff shortages.

A spokesman for The Cambian Group said: “We are very disappointed by our recent Ofsted inspection, and have already developed a comprehensive Quality Improvement Plan to address the concerns raised by Ofsted.  We have appointed a new headteacher and with the support from our staff, parents and local authorities we will return the school to a standard that we all expect”.