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Bradstow School Broadstairs. Latest Inspection Inadequate. Pupils Still At Risk

Credit BBC

Last week I published a confidential  Kent County Council  (KCC) letter to the parents of  pupils attending  Bradstow special needs school in Broadstairs. The letter  expressed  grave concerns about how the safety and well-being  of the  70 extremely vulnerable pupils, many of whom live at the school, is  being put at serious risk by  management failures, lack of training,  and  staff shortages.

Unbeknown to me, whilst I was writing that  article, education and social care regulator Ofsted  was  hard at work conducting  yet another inspection into the residential care services at this failing and  dangerous school.

An email sent to  school staff on 15 June  by Headmistress Penny Doswell, said  that  the “ Ofsted inspections we had in Hawthorn and the 38 week homes gave us overall ratings of Inadequate”  Just to be clear “inadequate” is the worst possible grade a school or residential establishment can get.

It would appear from Ms Doswell’s email that this disgraceful and worrying grade was earned  because, amongst other things, previous compliance notices  issued by Osted  about the administration of medication had not been met.


I find it hard to believe that  in a  residential school  for extremely vulnerable  special needs  pupils, all of whom will be taking some kind of medication,  failures to safely administer  drugs have  been known about and allowed to continue for almost a year.

Are we supposed to sit back and wait until a  vulnerable person in the care of the school dies from an overdose or is harmed because of receiving the wrong medicine?

According to Ms Doswell’s email  the long   downward spiral towards total institutional failure is set   to continue  and “it is highly likely that Ofsted will return in the very near future” and that “we will read some  criticism”  about yet more failures to keep pupils in the school’s care well and  safe.

Yet  Ms Doswell tries   to put a positive spin on the latest in a series of condemnatory inspection by saying that  “I should like categorically to reassure staff that Ofsted have not said they wish to close Bradstow”.

This shameful  comment  suggests to me  that the headmistress believes that  keeping open  a school, with a track record of  seriously neglecting   its pupils,  is a good thing and  something to celebrate.

It also angers me to note  that Ms Doswell’s  email offers no apology to the pupils of the school  for having  to tolerate poor and inadequate care for a prolonged period of time.

Nor does she offer parents and  carers of the pupils, who must be very worried by recent events,  any apology or reassurance either. In fact,  I wonder if Ms Doswell has  even bothered to write to  parents and carers about the latest Ofsted inspection. I suspect not.

Ms Doswell’s email is a sad illustration of the condescending attitude of many of those managing and services for  autistic, learning disabled , and other vulnerable people,  which is that poor and second rate care  is all that they  deserve, hence the pleasure that her school isn’t being closed for  being inadequate.  

I must make it clear, however,  that most of the staff at Bradstow are hard-working and dedicated and do all they can in difficult circumstances to care for the pupils.  Since publishing my article last week, I have been contacted by several people  associated with the school  who have described  to me a regime of  widespread  bullying and intimidation of staff by senior managers. Each one of them says that the bullying,  plus  generally  poor management,  is what has brought to the school to its knees. I will be writing about this soon.

In the meantime the school should be closed for the safety of the pupils. A  full independent investigation into the failings of the school carried out  and new, more effective,  management team installed before the school reopens.

Call out. If you have information about Bradstow school which you think should be made public please contact me in total confidence at  07866 588 766




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