Swindon's newest secondary school has been handed the lowest possible rating by Ofsted after a damning report.

The Deanery CE Academy is failing in a series of key areas according to the government watchdog, which was visiting the Wichelstowe school for the first time since it opened in 2019.

Rating it 'inadequate' overall, inspectors said pupils at the school "do not receive an acceptable standard of education and "are not well prepared for life in modern Britain". It also "does not accurately identify the needs of pupils with SEND".

They added: “This school requires special measures because it is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education."

The Peglars Way school, run by the Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust, cost £25m to build and opened with an initial Year 7 intake before adding another year group every year since.

Swindon Advertiser: Inside the £25m school which opened its doors in 2019.Inside the £25m school which opened its doors in 2019.

It promised to be “an exceptional school that…focuses on helping students live life in all its fullness.”

But four-and-a-half years later, the picture is very different.

Ofsted found The Deanery is 'inadequate' in terms of its quality of education, personal development and leadership and management. Behaviour and attitudes at the school 'require improvement'.

The school promises on its website to be “fully inclusive and diverse” but Ofsted found this to be far from the case.

“Pupils have not had opportunities to learn about and discuss discrimination and fundamental British values,” the report said following the inspection on September 12 and 13.

“Without this experience, pupils do not understand that homophobic or racist comments are unacceptable.”

Swindon Advertiser: Ofsted has labelled the school as 'inadequate'.Ofsted has labelled the school as 'inadequate'.

The Deanery also pledges that its staff are “well qualified and talented professionals” who unite to “ensure that all students flourish”.

Ofsted found that the staff roster is constantly changing and this turbulence and uncertainty has contributed to the school’s ongoing problems.

“Gaps in the curriculum and frequent staff changes mean that pupils do not learn well enough over time,” the report added.

“Vacancies for teachers are often filled with temporary staff on a long-term basis.”

The current headteacher is Dan Neal and Ofsted said: "There have been frequent changes in leadership since the school opened in 2019. The current school leadership structure is new and interim."

Swindon Advertiser: The school requires special measures according to Ofsted.The school requires special measures according to Ofsted.

The Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust is run by interim chief executive officer Stephen Mitchell and overseen by a board of trustees, chaired by Nigel Daniel.

Ofsted criticised those in the system by stating that the trust had not been effective in combating the issues.

Inspectors reported: “The trust has not identified and tackled the failings at the school. As a result, pupils are not receiving an adequate education.”


Another major issue identified by Ofsted is the lack of communication between the school and the pupils’ parents.

“Parents and carers do not feel listened to and communicated with,” said the report.

“This has led to a feeling of mistrust and being ‘let down’ by the school.”

In addition to this, the inspection also found that the attendance of students is well below the level expected.

“The school is beginning to understand the barriers that pupils face however too many pupils do not attend the school regularly,” added the report.

“Even though the school has made improvements, expectations for attendance and punctuality are still not high enough.”

Swindon Advertiser: The Deanery is 'inadequate' according to Ofsted.The Deanery is 'inadequate' according to Ofsted.

Ofsted acknowledged that the school understands its statuary responsibilities including safeguarding and finance but due to its other failings, The Deanery requires special measures.

The school must be more transparent with its curriculum, according to the report, and raise expectations amongst pupils regarding attendance.

It is also suggested in the report that the school must provide pupils in Years 8 to 11 with meaningful experiences of the world of work.

This also includes learning about age-appropriate opportunities to learn about relationships and sex education, protected characteristics and fundamental British values after the report stated that “not all pupils receive this”.

The Adver has approached The Deanery and the Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust for comment.