Inspectors find ‘morale is rising’ at Hampstead school under new management

Heathside Prep School's main offices in New End, as they looked in April 2019. Picture: Polly Hancoc

Heathside Prep School's main offices in New End, as they looked in April 2019. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A private school that changed hands earlier this year after a raft of issues is now up to standard, Ofsted inspectors have found.

Heathside Preparatory School was bought by Dukes Education this summer after its parent company of 27 years, Remus White Limited, went into administration.

After its last full Ofsted inspection in March the school, which charges up to £18,600 a year in fees, was rated Requires Improvement.

But after carrying out a monitoring inspection on September 12 inspectors have given the school a clean bill of health in a newly-published report.

The new leadership, they said, was meeting the required standards and had procedures in place for the safe recruitment of staff.

"Governors are professional and knowledgeable", they added. "Since July 2019, they have carefully reviewed the school's strengths and weaknesses and lost no time in taking action to make essential improvements."

In addition inspectors said parents were supportive of the changes Duke's was making and appreciated the "improved communication" with new headteacher Kate Vintiner.

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Staff have also had safeguarding training and healthcare plans are in place for all pupils that need them.

Heathside is split across six sites and has around 500 pupils aged two to 14 on the books, with some boarding pupils.

It is now also meeting the national minimum standards for the quality of education provided, pupil welfare and safety, the state of the buildings and appropriate handling of complaints.

Before the takeover the school had faced a staff and student exodus as well as a number of safeguarding concerns.

It had also been offering GCSEs without Department for Education permission and was facing an injunction from Barnet Council over the use of one of its buildings.

Now, inspectors said, "Staff have confidence in leaders and morale is rising.

"Communication has improved. Leaders reply to emails and staff can get answers. Staff feel more valued as their concerns are listened to and acted upon by senior leaders.

"The headteacher is highly organised, determined to improve the school and is creating an inclusive caring ethos for pupils and staff."