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Staff at Medway Autism Group and Information Centre

By Nicola Jordan

A school for autistic children has been branded "inadequate" by Ofsted inspectors.

Staff at Medway Autism Group and Information Centre, known as MAGIC, have been handed a long list of improvements needed at the school in Cliffe Woods.

They include safeguarding issues such as basic fire precautions as "a matter of urgency".

Medway Autism Group and Information Centre has been branded "inadequate" by Ofsted
Medway Autism Group and Information Centre has been branded "inadequate" by Ofsted

In a report compiled after a two-day visit - which took place in November and has just been published - it outlined that leadership and teaching needed to be stepped up and it did not "meet independent school standards".

There were only 14 pupils registered, less than a quarter of the 60 full capacity.

Senior leaders and trustees came in for severe criticism for not having a development plan and not giving pupils’ safety enough priority.

Weaknesses in the curriculum were highlighted with the content and quality of learning relying too heavily on individual teachers’ subject knowledge.

As a result, a broad range of overall knowledge was not met.

The absence of a planned curriculum meant that youngsters did not develop a sufficient understanding of British values, such as democracy, the rule of law and respect for those with different faiths and beliefs.

On fire safety issues, it was noted that an evacuation drill had not been carried out since the school’s registration in February last year and extinguishers had not been checked and serviced regularly.

Anti-bullying behaviour and policies were not fit-for-purpose, although incidents of bullying were rare.

On a plus note, adults and pupils got on well together and children respected their teachers and worked hard.

"We are confident that we can turn the school around and improve its performance in good time" - Alicja Emmett

All parents who completed Ofsted’s online questionnaire felt that were happy and safe.

MAGIC had secured significant successes in pupils’ attendance, often re-engaging them after lengthy absences from schooling.

Practical skills, including cooking, contributed to their growing independence.

As well as autism, some youngsters have additional learning and behavioural difficulties. All have an education, health and care (EHC) plan.

The school is based at Bradbury House in View Road and was previously home to Cerebral Palsy Care Kent which closed in 2014.

In a statement, the school said changes were in place to turn things around.

Interim head teacher Alicja Emmett said: “The trustees of the charity and the new head teacher want to reassure parents/carers and the local community that we have a clear plan to deliver outcomes which address the areas that require additional attention so that the school can thrive.

“We are confident that we can turn the school around and improve its performance in good time.

“Having said that, the inspectors found many positive strengths within the school – these being that pupils enjoy school and behave well, parents are positive about the school’s work, all members of the staff team are keen to play their part in the school’s development and some pupils are learning well in English and mathematics.”

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