Parents say they are confident a school can be turned around under a new head teacher who has stepped in to run it after a damning ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating.

The Downley School was last inspected 15 years ago, when it was rated ‘outstanding’ – but after an inspection on March 22 and 23, it has been downgraded to ‘inadequate’.

Inspectors said the school has “lost its way” over the last few years – and fed-up parents told the Bucks Free Press that while the results of the Ofsted visit were “incredibly saddening”, they were “unfortunately not unexpected”.

In the damning report, pupils shared their fears over a high turnover of staff and bullying at the Faulkner Way school.

An inspectors noted how relationships between school leaders, parents and staff are strained and “trust and respect are in short supply”.

They also highlighted how problems are caused by “weak” leadership and governors have not held leaders to account – with five different chairs of the governing body in just two years.

One governor also reportedly told an inspector that “it is scary to be a governor at Downley at the moment”, while another said school leaders were “defensive” and would not acknowledge difficult questions or any small weakness.

A lack of trust has also meant a number of teaching and support staff have left the school and a “significant” proportion of staff who completed a staff survey said they have negative views about their work.

Ofsted also found provision for pupils with special educational needs is “disjointed and inconsistent” leaving parents “angry and frustrated”, the school’s programme to teach pupils to read is “of poor quality because key staff are not expert enough to deliver it” and phonics lessons for early years children is “chaotic”.

Inspectors noted: “The poor behaviour of some pupils, including incidents of bullying, is not being addressed in a consistent way.

“Much of this is caused by the ever-changing workforce and the time it takes new staff to develop strong and trusting relationships with pupils.

“This is also having a negative impact on pupils’ personal development, particularly in classes with the highest repeated turnover of staff.

“Leaders need to act to stem the high turnover of staff. They need to raise expectations of the way some pupils behave, support staff more effectively in dealing with poor behaviour, and ensure that problems with bullying, either real or perceived, are dealt with swiftly, openly and effectively.”

Despite the concerning Ofsted report, one parent told the Bucks Free Press they have been left feeling “incredibly confident and thankful” that new head teacher, Sarah Morgan, has stepped to help turn the school around.

Mrs Morgan said: “I was approached by Buckinghamshire Council in my capacity of head teacher at Danesfield School to ask whether I would have the capacity to support The Downley School following its recent Ofsted inspection. 

“In just a few weeks I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the parents at the school and the wonderful children.

“With my colleagues from Danesfield School and the support of our governing body we are working extremely hard to address any and all areas of concern identified in the Ofsted report. 

“We are committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure that the children of Downley can be inspired by their school and to quickly move the school onto a sustainable route to excellence. 

“I can promise the parents at Downley that no effort will be spared by us and that we have the best short and long term interests of their community at heart.”