PRIMARY school-aged pupils are not safe at a centre for troubled youngsters, a damning school inspection has revealed.

The Ark, a pupil referral unit in Whitefield, has been graded as inadequate by Ofsted, which stated: “This school requires significant improvement”.

Ofsted found that safeguarding at the school, which mainly caters for pupils who have been excluded from mainstream school, was “ineffective”. Inspectors found the systems in place to check on adults’ suitability to work with children were inadequate.

Inspectors said in a report: “Leaders and governors have lost sight of the need to complete these basic checks.” It added: “Governors have not ensured that there are effective safeguarding systems in place. As a result, pupils are not safe.”

Early in the last school year, Ofsted stated that children and adults’ safety was at risk. Ofsted reported: “Earlier in the academic year 2016/17, the school hit a crisis point when the behaviour of pupils was poor. During this time the safety of pupils and staff was in jeopardy.”

Effectiveness of leadership and management and personal development, behaviour and welfare were given the lowest possible grade of inadequate and outcomes for pupils and quality of teaching, learning and assessment both require improvement.

The governing body, led by Cllr Susan Southworth, was criticised for not providing effective support and challenge for senior leaders, with Ofsted stating: “There is some reluctance to accept responsibility for their part in the school’s decline”.

Ofsted reported that the school is recovering from two ‘very difficult school terms’ when high numbers of permanently excluded pupils were sent to The Ark. Leaders and staff were described as being

‘overwhelmed and overstretched’ trying to deal with very challenging pupil behaviour.

Ofsted reported: “They accept that they were not able to manage this situation well and as a result there were high levels of temporary exclusions from this school.”

It added when it was at crisis point in early 2017, the school sought help from Bury Council, which has been ‘effective’.

But inspectors found the headteacher and senior staff are ‘determined to ensure that the school meets pupils’ needs’.

They reported: “Leaders display a good level of resilience in dealing with challenging situations. Now the crisis period early in 2017 is over, leaders are successfully focusing on improving the school.”

Teachers were praised for encouraging pupils and that when they are able to manage behaviour in the classroom, children do learn. Ofsted found that recently pupils’ behaviour and children’s attitude towards each other was better.

A Bury Council spokesman said: “We have given a considerable amount of support to the Ark over the past 18 months and many significant improvements have been made, but not enough.

“To put the Ofsted report in context, there are only two children currently full time registered at the Ark, and another seven children who still attend their home school three days a week. These figures have steadily reduced over the last 18 months, when the Ark was at its full legal capacity of 16 full-time places.

“We have been looking, and will continue to look, at the best ways of providing this service which address the concerns raised by Ofsted and meet the needs of children and their families.”

No one from the school or the chairman of governors was available for comment.