A DAMNING Ofsted report has condemned a school’s ‘pick and mix approach’ to teaching the curriculum.

The safety of pupils at St Catherine’s Catholic Primary School in Wimborne is at risk, teaching is inadequate and staff ignore school policies, according to a report just published.

Government inspectors visited the Cutlers Place, Colehill school in March and have rated it as ‘inadequate’ across the board.

Parents were told headteacher Sarah Sparks is currently “away from school on special leave” by deputy headteacher Melanie Dare, who said: “Alternative arrangements to cover her work have been put in place.” However, it was yesterday confirmed after questions from the Echo that Ms Sparks has left her post.

The school is part of a 36-school multi-academy trust called the Plymouth CAST and representatives have called a meeting with parents to discuss the report next week.

Inspectors spent two days at the school, which has 163 pupils between the ages of three and 11.

They criticised Ms Sparks and said she had “failed to provide middle leaders and teachers with the support they need”.

They added: “Staff morale is low. Leaders fail to deploy funding effectively. The safeguarding of pupils is ineffective. Leaders and governors have not been successful in halting the decline in he quality of teaching and pupils’ achievement.”

Schools are graded in five areas. At St Catherine’s, all were graded as ‘inadequate’, the lowest possible grade, and the school has been placed in special measures.

The report went on: “The school’s curriculum does not prepare pupils well for their future lives. Pupils make poor progress in a range of subjects. They also have a limited knowledge of other cultures and religions.

“Teaching is inadequate. Children in the nursery are ill-prepared for Reception. Teachers do not motivate pupils to do their best. A third of parents report a lack of faith in school leaders.

“Relationships among staff are fractious. The school’s curriculum is poorly designed and poorly taught. Leaders’ challenge has failed to eradicate some teachers’ pick and mix approach to teaching aspects of the curriculum.”

It also said the headteacher has failed to check risk assessments for school trips and that “consequently, pupils’ safety is at risk.”

It said incidents of poor behaviour have reduced and that there have been recent improvements in the administration of safeguarding practices.

Plymouth CAST director of education and standards Louise Adams wrote to parents and said: “I am sure you will be shocked and concerned to hear this but I can provide some reassurance that the provision is not inadequate for most of our pupils.”, although we can improve some elements further.

“I can also reassure you that, although the report refers to safeguarding concerns, the school is a safe place for your children to be.”

Yesterday, she told the Echo the school is a “safe place”, adding: “We were all disappointed.

“The headteacher has made the decision to step down from her post and the trust is taking immediate action to address the areas for improvement, the majority of which were linked to leadership and management.

“Our staff really appreciate the positive and supportive feedback we have received from many parents.”