THE safeguarding of children at a Reading school needs to be improved, according to Ofsted.

The find follows an inspection which deemed the The Vine Christian School to be 'inadequate' last year, and notes that, in particular, staff need to be more aware of how to notice and report concerns about the health and welfare of students.

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The independent school, based on Basingstoke Road, was assessed by the watchdog in June 2019, where inspectors notes concerns regarding safeguarding, leadership and quality of teaching.

During a monitoring visit in October this year, Ofsted published an updated report which says that, overall, the school does not meet all of the independent school standards, and that several improvements have not yet been made.

The Three Mile Cross school teaches children from between the ages of three to 18, providing a Bible-based education.

Inspectors said that the new Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), who is also the headteacher, has begun to raise the profile of safeguarding in the school, and that the subject is now discussed at regular staff meetings and governance meetings.

However, the report notes that there is still not a secure culture of safeguarding in the school, with some pupils feeling like they are unable to talk about things that might be worrying them, because they think they are not allowed to.

Gaps in staff knowledge and understanding about safeguarding were also raised as a concern, with some staff not clearly understanding the indicators of some forms of abuse.

Inspectors said that the DSL is "well meaning and wants to do the right things to ensure pupils are safeguarded", but added that she does not have a deep enough understanding of safeguarding and was not clear about some of the local issues that might make pupils unsafe.

It added that the DSL "sometimes lacks confidence in making decisions", including when to reach out to other professionals and agencies about the protection of pupils.

However, inspectors noted that there had been some increase in staff knowledge and awareness of safeguarding since the previous visit, which "can be seen through records which show that they have raised some concerns and held discussions about their knowledge of the school policy."

They also found that leaders and staff have now received some online safeguarding training, with the DSL and deputy both holding a current certificate at the required level.

All staff have read the school’s safeguarding policy and the relevant sections of ‘keeping children safe in education’.

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A spokeswoman from The Vine Christian School said: "This term, Ofsted has been making monitoring visits to a range of schools to reassure parents, ministers and the public about how schools are managing the return to full education of their pupils and students following lockdown.

"As our small school family uses a bible-based curriculum based on home education and individual learning, we found that during lockdown we were able to adapt well to home working.

"We were delighted to welcome students back this term, in great mental shape, able to resume their studies relatively uninterrupted, as a result of which we have launched an exciting home-schooling partnership.

"Ofsted looked at our safeguarding and we are pleased that despite Covid19, they found we had improved, and continue to do so as we work hard to fulfill all the requirements of the Independent Schools Standards."

to view the full inspection report, click here.