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Inspectors find major failings at primary school

Inspectors from the Office for Standards In Education have produced a damning report of a London primary school where a pupil did not speak for three- and-a-half years.

Mostyn Garden Primary School in Lambeth failed to deal properly with the pupil. They also criticise most aspects of its teaching and management. They said teaching was poor, truancy high and discipline bad. The school is the fifth in the south London borough of Lambeth to fail an inspection and it is understood that the inspectorate considers its failings particularly serious.

The reports says: "The school is offering a poor education to its pupils and fails to give them effective access to the national curriculum."

Yesterday Chris Woodhead, chief inspector of schools, said on BBC Radio 4's World at One: "It is completely baffling how the situation at this school arose. I cannot find another word for it. There are schools which are failing their pupils and this is another shocking example."

The school says it has drawn up an action plan to meet the criticisms. If that is accepted, it will be given more time to raise standards.

Joyce Haynes, the head, has written to parents of 282 children inviting them to an emergency meeting at the end of the month. Lambeth council must also produce an action plan.

Gillian Shephard, Secretary of of State for Education, can send in a hit squad of education experts if she is not satisfied that the school can improve.

The inspector said more than a third of lessons had significant weaknesses and standards were unsatisfactory and often poor in English, maths and science.

Silent reading lessons in the afternoon were "often not silent and in some cases only desultory browsing occurs". The children's speaking, listening and reading were poor and many had difficulty with grammar, punctuation and spelling. Few could do joined-up writing.

The report said : "Disruption in classrooms is frequent and teachers struggle to maintain order and a stimulating curriculum." Young and inexperienced teachers faced particular difficulties.

Ms Haynes's letter says: "We shall be giving all the help and training we can do to our teaching and support team who will be working with you and the parents to move the school forward."

The report said staff were frustrated by the shortage of resources. It praised the school's music and percussion band which had won prizes at festivals.

So far, 90 of the 4,000 schools inspected by Ofsted have failed. About half of these are primary schools.