A trouble-hit Walsall school that was branded “not fit for purpose” has literally turned over a new leaf following its latest inspection.

In a damning Ofsted report in April, the 142-pupil New Leaf Centre in Rushall was placed into special measures after lead inspector Mike Cladingbowl said the school was “in a rapid decline”.

The report slammed the school after inspectors witnessed pupils swearing at each other, fire alarms being set off and youngsters attempting to smash through locked doors.

But following an unannounced visit, which took place on October 17, inspector Sue Morris-King has commended the Pelsall Lane-school for taking effective action.

She wrote: “The inspection was the first monitoring inspection since the school became subject to special measures following the inspection that took place in April 2018.

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“Leaders and managers are taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.

“The interim headteacher has set a clear direction for the way in which behaviour should be managed in the pupil referral unit, which he models well. There is an emphasis on understanding that many undesirable behaviours are a form of communication.

“Staffing remains turbulent but is beginning to settle as more staff have fixed-term contracts rather than being employed on a daily basis.

“Primary staff, who previously felt isolated, think that the move to the New Leaf site is a significant improvement.

“Most pupils at the New Leaf site were in their lessons for most of the time they were meant to be. Where pupils were upset and out of class they were supported and quickly returned.

“At breaktime and lunchtime, clear routines were evident and the pupils responded well. A choice of activities, including board games and sports, gave pupils a choice of whether to socialise or to have some quiet time.

“Proper attention is paid to pupils’ well-being.”

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Despite its improvements, the school has been banned from appointing any newly-qualified teachers in a bid to drive up results. It still remains inadequate.

New Leaf Centre, off Pelsall Lane, caters for pupils aged between five and 16 and most were excluded from their previous school.

How the school has been told to improve to escape special measures:

  • Take urgent steps to ensure that all pupils are taught in a safe environment by: ensuring that all buildings are fit for purpose, adequately cleaned and maintained.

  • Strengthen leadership and management by securing stability in senior leadership.

  • Securing stability in senior leadership by supplying teachers and pupils with sufficient resources.

  • Tackle poor attendance and attitudes of pupils by monitoring and addressing the incidence and nature of pupils’ absence more carefully.

  • Check the arrangements for alternative provision more carefully so the needs of pupils are met by reviewing the quality of each placement and its relevance for each pupil, including removing pupils from any provision that may be operating illegally.

What Ofsted found during the last inspection:

“During the inspection, pupils wandered in and out of rooms, often pushing through others, attempted to break through locked doors, and set off a fire alarm,” added lead inspector Mike Cladingbowl.

“Teachers and pupils do not always have the basic equipment, such as rulers, needed for lessons.

“The school is often disorderly. Pupils on both sites have poor attitudes to learning.

“In key stage 1 and key stage 2, many pupils find it difficult to concentrate.

“They are slow to form trusting relationships with adults. In lessons, they are frequently out of their seats without permission or attempt to leave the room.”

Mr Cladingbowl said: “At key stage 3, pupils’ behaviour is very poor. Swearing and aggressive behaviour are commonplace.

“Few pupils concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time. They are easily distracted.

“They are frequently rude towards staff and to each other. They move around the school without regard for rules or conventions."