School bosses admit they need more time to meet standards

A new independent school being set up in Sleaford for teens with social, emotional and mental health needs is working to address serious shortcomings found in an initial inspection by Ofsted.

Kesteven Business Centre, Kesteven Street. EMN-200921-091748001

Holton Sleaford Independent School is set to be based in converted office units in Kesteven Business Centre in Kesteven Street.

It will deliver a mainly outdoor curriculum for up to 16 pupils aged 14-19 with Social Emotional and Mental Health needs who may have struggled at mainstream school.

Director of Education at the school, Luke Hollingworth, said in his submission to North Kesteven planners in July: “Our intention is to fill the majority of our places from local authority sources, principally Lincolnshire.”

However, an initial visit by Ofsted in August concluded: “The proprietors do not have a clear understanding of the requirements of the independent school standards.

“Proposed policies and systems to ensure pupils’ health and welfare are not appropriate. For example, policies for fire, safeguarding and health and safety do not meet the related standards.”

Leaders were unaware of important information which was missing from the school safeguarding policy.

The building was not deemed safe at the time. An internal door led to other businesses, meaning the public could gain access unsupervised, a hot water tank in the kitchen posed a risk from scalding and chemicals were stored on shelves in kitchen and toilet facilities for pupils.

During the inspection, leaders acknowledged the premises were not yet ready for pupils. They also admitted they needed more time to ensure policies and procedures are robust and meet all standards.

The report added: “Leaders are passionate about the type of provision they want to provide for pupils. They strongly believe it will give pupils with SEMH needs a chance to succeed through education which is personalised to their needs.”

The leaders intend to resubmit their application at a time when they feel the proposed school is likely to meet all the independent school standards.