BAD behaviour and a 'failure' to support vulnerable children has led to a school being labelled 'inadequate' by Ofsted.

Heyford Park Free School near Bicester has sunk to the bottom standard from a previous rating of 'good', and has been placed in special measures.

The all-through school sent the report to parents on Friday with a lengthy letter, admitting the feedback was 'very disappointing' and pledging to improve.

Inspectors wrote in their report: "Some groups of pupils do not fare well at this school and the learning environment for many is not a happy one.

"Too often, pupils' behaviour is boisterous and disruptive.

"Some pupils report that they do not feel safe at school... parents, carers and pupils are concerned that leaders do not recognise and deal with bullying effectively."

Early years provision was rated 'good' and the sixth form 'requires improvement', but quality of education, behaviour, personal development and leadership were all judged to be 'inadequate'.

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This resulted in an 'inadequate' rating overall and the academy is now in special measures for 'failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education'.

This means the regulator and the regional schools commissioner, which oversees academies, will keep a close eye on progress.

Principal Karen Healey, who was praised by Ofsted last year for her 'compelling vision', was absent during the inspection in November due to illness.

Trustees told parents in their letter: "The inspection also took place when we had two additional senior staff absences and we believe that had a negative impact.

"We acknowledge the significance of the issues raised and are fully committed to addressing these matters comprehensively and robustly.

"However, our view is that the report does not reflect the clear strengths of the school community, or offer any account of the many positive experiences of pupils and parents."

A new interim executive principal, Dan Neal, has been appointed to drive improvements and will be in post full-time from Monday until the end of the academic year.

Heyford Park opened in 2013 and had 630 pupils on roll during Ofsted's two-day visit.

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It had previously been rated 'good' in 2015 and maintained this during a shorter inspection in 2018.

In the latest report, Ofsted said provision for pupils with special needs is 'far from good enough' and leaders and trustees had 'failed in their statutory duty' to provide inclusive education.

They shamed some leaders for 'encouraging some parents to home-educate or seek different schools' for some children with special needs.

Ofsted said the curriculum is 'not good enough' and many teachers' expectations of pupils are too low.

Its report highlighted how there is no provision for design and technology at secondary level and there is 'too little enrichment' outside of lessons.

They reported that pupils are 'frequently' sent out of class for bad behaviour and 'several spend long periods in corridors or other rooms'.

Inspectors did highlight, however, that 'many pupils show respect'.

Also read: What Ofsted said about the school this time last year

They said trustees 'need to eliminate the practice of off-rolling'.

Off-rolling is defined by Ofsted as 'removing a pupil from the school roll without using a permanent exclusion, when the removal is primarily in the best interests of the school, rather than the pupil'.

While some teaching was described as 'weak', the watchdog said pupils 'feel well-prepared for their next steps' nonetheless.

In an eight-page letter and 'question and answer' sheet sent to parents, trustees admitted: "The report is very disappointing, and we have a considerable amount of

work to do to make the improvements required.

"We have been incredibly busy since the inspection in taking steps to deliver rapid improvements."

They said they had taken 'immediate' action to address safeguarding concerns, and had appointed a SEND [special educational needs and disabilities] coordinator.

A new 'behaviour ladder' has been brought in and trustees are also 'reviewing the length of the secondary school day'.

The report has not yet been published on Ofsted's website.