A leaked copy of a briefing given a summary of the safeguarding investigation at Exeter Deaf Academy has revealed vast serious failings, including incidents where children have come to actual harm.
No further details of those incidents were given in the staff briefing safeguarding investigation appraisal, but significant problems were highlighted about the ability of staff to look after pupils, including some staff who were unable to communicate with children in their care.
The damning criticisms of staff practice and safeguarding include:
. A serious lack of safeguarding knowledge generally across staff.
. Staff are unable to correctly identify concerning incidents deal with them appropriately.
. Staff do not always understand what is normal child sexual development and what are harmful sexual behaviours.
. The safeguarding recording system does not easily enable us to identify any concerning patterns.
. The culture emphasises process with very little understanding or attention to the actual safeguarding and child protection issues.
. Essential information is not routinely shared between Progress House and the school.
.De-escalation techniques are not always used effectively to minimise the use of restraints.
. Behaviour management is not effective, the same sanctions are repeatedly used.
. Staff do not routinely analyse behaviour records to look for patterns of behaviour.
. Staff are not equipped to effectively work with the increasingly complex needs of students.
. There have been incidents where children's safety has been compromised leading to actual harm.
. Safer recruitment processes have not always been properly followed.
. Employing staff with no ability to communicate with the children they are caring for is compromising children's ability to tell staff if there are things they are concerned about.
A major investigation was launched at the school in Topsham Road in July, following concerns raised in a 'whistleblowing letter' sent to Ofsted.
Three members of staff were believed to have been suspended when the investigation was launched. Devon County Council, Ofsted and the DfE have concluded their investigation and made recommendations which until now have not been disclosed.