It was like something out of a terrible sit-com when an Ofsted inspector visited a planned new Birmingham school – and found himself unable to easily escape a FIRE.

He had already pulled a window off its hinges, spotted staples holding up peeling wallpaper, found exposed wires and evidence of rodent activity.

He also found he was able to open a third floor window so wide a pupil could fall out.

And when a fire broke out during the inspection and the official was unable to get out, it was clear the school was destined to fail the inspection.

The inspector made the damning discoveries during a visit to Smithfield House in Digbeth, where Empire Coaching Academy planned to open a school for up to 70 vulnerable kids.

He also found he was able to open a third floor window so wide a pupil could fall out.

And when a fire broke out during the inspection and the official was unable to get out, it was clear the school was destined to fail the inspection.

The inspector made the damning discoveries during a visit to Smithfield House in Digbeth, where Empire Coaching Academy planned to open a school for up to 70 vulnerable kids.

“The fire doors, which should allow easy escape, were either locked with a padlock, tied up with electrical cable from the inside and boarded up from the outside, or could not be opened easily,” the report said.

“The main door was secured by a magnetic lock and could not be immediately opened from the inside by the inspector.

“The building was not properly evacuated. As a result, the premises were not safe…the on-site inspection was terminated.”

It wasn’t the only issue the inspector encountered.

During his tour of the third floor, where the school was going to open, he also found he could get onto the derelict floors above and encountered a series of “serious hazards”.

“Some of these hazards pose even more of a risk because the pupils the proprietor proposes to educate are highly vulnerable,” he wrote.

Issues he found on the third floor, where the school was going to open, included:

* Some wallpaper peeling off and had been stapled back to the wall;

* Exposed wires at the site of some plugs and light sockets because the sockets were broken or not properly fixed to the wall;

* Some windows did not open because their handles were broken;

* No medical room;

* Inadequate lighting on the fire escape routes.

But it got worse when he examined the rest of the building via an open door to the “derelict” two upper floors, where he found evidence of water damage, fallen in ceilings, piles of office furniture, low dangling light fittings, sharp steel ceiling retainers at head height and a shopping trolley.

 

 

There was also “mouldy food” and “signs of rodent activity.”

The inspector was scathing about the school’s leaders for “not noticing that the proposed school premises pose very serious risks to pupils, both on the leased floor and within the rest of the building.”

He added: “The premises would be dangerous to any building user. Leaders have not considered the needs of the pupils they propose to educate nor evaluated the serious risks that would be posed to these extremely vulnerable pupils.”

The inspection took place to decide if the school met the independent school standards required to open this month as a school for up to 70 children.

The report states:  “The proprietor (listed as Empire Coaching Academy) and deputy head teacher of the proposed school run an existing organisation, Empire Coaching. This organisation mentors vulnerable pupils who are excluded or at risk of exclusion.

“They wish to open a school to add education to their mentoring offer.”

The school would provide for some pupils with special educational needs including those with an education, health and care (EHC) plan.

The report said: “These pupils would have a range of needs, including cognitive, specific, moderate and severe learning difficulties, social, emotional and mental health needs, communication and interaction needs, speech, language and communication needs and autism.”

The pre-registration report concludes, not surprisingly, that the school “is not likely to meet the standards.”

It adds: “The proprietor and the appointed senior leader have not demonstrated that they have the necessary knowledge, understanding and expertise to make sure that the school is likely to meet the independent school standards on opening.

“They have not noticed that the proposed school premises pose very serious risks to pupils, both on the leased floor and within the rest of the building. The premises would be dangerous to any building user.

“Leaders have not considered the needs of the pupils they propose to educate nor evaluated the serious risks that would be posed to these extremely vulnerable pupils.”

 

Source: Birmingham Live