Deaf school ordered to ensure pupil safety

Inspectors found that the school's policies relating to safeguarding pupils were not consistently implemented. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Inspectors found that the school's policies relating to safeguarding pupils were not consistently implemented. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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SCOTLAND’S school for deaf children has been told to take immediate action to ensure pupil safety.

Donaldson’s in Linlithgow was served a government improvement notice last month after concerns were raised about the residential school.

A new convener appointed to its governing board will oversee changes as Police Scotland continue to review an allegation against a member of staff.

The joint Education Scotland and Care Inspectorate inspection report published recently said the school lacked effective leadership and cited tension between employees, senior managers and the governing board.

And it said the school had made “insufficient progress” to rectify problems that had been previously identified and since then “some aspects of provision have significantly deteriorated” instead of improving.

It said Donaldson’s did not provide enough opportunities for pupils to communicate their concerns and have their views taken into account.

And inspectors said: “Whilst the school has a range of policies related to safeguarding, these are not consistently implemented and staff are not sufficiently aware of their responsibilities in keeping children and young people safe from harm.”

The majority of children enjoy learning but inspectors witnessed disruptive behaviour where classes were not matched to their needs.

The report said: “Some staff do not engage well with children and young people to help them understand or improve their behaviour.

“Staff are not deployed effectively to meet the needs of children and young people. This is contributing to poor supervision of pupils and the unacceptably high number of incidents of challenging behaviour.”

Donaldson’s, which provides primary and secondary education for 42 pupils, was inspected at the end of last year.

The report called for the immediate implementation of a system for all staff working directly with children “to effectively share information to enable the needs and safety of children to be agreed and met across the whole organisation”.

Minister for learning Alasdair Allan said he expected quick progress. Inspectors will return within six months.

Mr Allan said: “A team of inspectors has been at the school since the notice was served, to work with the school to develop plans for improvements and they will remain in the school until Christmas.

“We expect progress to be made quickly and will continue to monitor this closely.”

Newly-appointed convener John Anderson said: “Donaldson’s School is facing a very challenging time.

“The current review of the school’s management has been instigated by the school, when the new principal felt that appropriate procedures were not being followed.

“We now have the Scottish Government’s go-ahead to implement our action plan going forward and continue to work with Scottish Government, Police Scotland and all other appropriate agencies.

“Priority is the safety and wellbeing of the children and young people in our care.”

Donaldson’s has appointed three new members to its board while three have stood down. The new principal is Laura Battles.