110 private schools, including Prince Charles’ former one, ordered by Government to ‘improve standards or be closed’

Ofsted guidance says such notices are only ever issued in circumstances where there has been a 'substantial number of regulatory failures'

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Friday 18 December 2015 15:01
Comments

More than 100 private schools across the UK- including one attended by Prince Charles - have been ordered by the Government to improve standards or be closed since July last year, according to an investigation.

In the joint investigation by The Yorkshire Post and education newspaper Schools Week, documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act have shown how the Department for Education (DfE) has issued 110 schools with “statutory of improvement” notices.

Schools Week said the documents it obtained under the Act have shown the private schools have “breached the minimum independent school regulations 410 times” over the past 16 months.

According to Ofsted guidance - the body which inspects and regulates education services related to the care of children and young people - such notices are only ever issued in circumstances where there has been a “substantial number of regulatory failures,” added Schools Week.

Read the Government's 'Statutory guidance for local authorities':

The Royal Ballet School in London - which describes itself as being “one of the world's greatest centres of classical ballet training” - is among the schools, along with Prince Charles’ former £14,000-per-year Hill House School in Knightsbridge which carries the motto: “A child’s mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”

Marylebone's Sylvia Young Theatre School - which bills itself as “offering a high level of academic and vocational studies” and counts Rita Ora and the late Amy Winehouse among its alumni - was also revealed to have received the Government’s notice.

Newbury Hall in West Berkshire - a £35,000-per-year international boarding school which says it aims to “create confident, happy students who reach their full potential” - has also been revealed in the joint investigation.

'Life at Newbury Hall School':

Overall, The Royal Ballet School was issued the notice last November after an earlier Ofsted inspection found pupil safeguarding was “not effective” and the system for vetting staff was “liable to error,” reported Schools Week.

The education newspaper also added Hill House received two notices this year alone for a total of nine breaches, the Sylvia Young Theatre School “did not meet child protection requirements,” and, finally, Newbury Hall received warning over its “inappropriately lit, heated, and ventilated accommodation,” although its principal Jon Crocker told Schools Week the school "did not agree with large parts of the notice."

According to Schools Week, Sylvia Young, the founder, said the notice related to "a small number of staff not having a second reference and medical declaration," adding that a no-notice inspection in May found "the school now met standards."

The Yorkshire Post reported how one of the schools in the county - Queen Ethelburga's Collegiate - was cautioned over the use of 700 CCTV cameras in and around the building.

Principal Stephen Jandrell told The Post a full action plan was submitted within two weeks of the report being received. He said: “All the points raised in the report were fully attended to within weeks of the start of term and we await the re-inspection to bring the matter to a satisfactory close.”

Speaking with Schools Week, a DfE spokesperson described how all independent schools must comply with the Independent School Standards, adding: “And, where there are concerns a school is failing to meet these standards, we will take swift action.”

The Independent Schools Council - which says it represents over 1,200 independent schools in the UK and overseas that are ranked among the best in the world - described how schools were “rightly held to high standards,” adding: “Most of our schools get these things right and those who don’t should work quickly to make sure that they do.”

The Royal Ballet House and Hill House have not yet responded to the Independent's request for comment.

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