Parents at a school for autistic children have said complaints over safeguarding issues are being ignored by staff.

The National Autistic Society Anderson School on Luxborough Lane, Chigwell, was graded ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted following an emergency inspection on October 15 last year.

Ofsted said the inspection was prompted by a recent surge in complaints by parents about pupils’ bullying and safeguarding. Its report noted: “Too often, concerns about pupils’ safeguarding are not dealt with effectively.”

Essex County Council said it is now working with parents who want to take their children out of the school. It also decided not to commission new places at the school while a safeguarding review is being undertaken.

At the time of the inspection last October, 57 students aged between 11 and 19 were enrolled. Now only 40 students are at the school, according to Ofsted’s website.

Kelly Khan, from Loughton, decided to pull her son from Year 9 out of the school in November 2019 after he became too frightened to attend.

She said: “The fact Essex County Council are offering children to pull out speaks volumes. My son has fallen so behind in his education, particularly maths by dropping four levels.

“My worry is that parents who want to send their children to that school, they would not know anything about it.

“If I had these facts beforehand, I would never have sent my son to that school. His mental health is so damaged.”

Epping Forest Guardian:

The Anderson School had an emergency inspection in October 2019 and is due another one before May 2020

Ms Khan’s son was one of the first children to attend The Anderson School when it first opened in 2017.

The mum said: “The new school looked amazing as it was brand new building and as it was a new school, there no bad reports.

“I was just so enamoured with everything they told me that my son was going to get his GCSE’s support, therapy and they have done nothing.”

She became concerned about her son’s education when the teen was given homework on subjects covered in primary school.

“I said to him, you have already done this, you know how solve these problems and he yeah I do and then told me the teachers just give them crosswords and put the TV on for them during lessons.

“This school is supposed to be for children that can’t accessed mainstream but are able to sit their GCSE’s because they are bright kids and they have learned nothing.”

“I have an issue with the teachers who are supposed to be watching all of this, they never get parents in to explain anything.”

Ms Khan has been forced to give up work in order to home-school her son, who has become too nervous to leave the house.

Another parent, who wanted to remain anonymous, said her Year 10 son – who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism and a sleeping disorder - used to enjoy learning but is now unable to write and has been pulled from maths lessons.

She said: “He seems to get on well with his peers but he doesn’t get educated. He has been there since 2017 and I only learned at Christmas 2018, he had never entered a classroom.

“His temperament has changed from this laughing, loving, joking young lad to someone who is now very stern and won’t talk to anyone. The school have made my son into a completely different person.”

When asked why she has chosen to keep her son at the Chigwell-based school, she said: “We are in Year 10. I am fighting against him leaving because he doesn’t like change. I have gone out of my way to find somewhere else for him to go and there isn’t anywhere else.”

She added: “We’ve had many meetings about moving the school forward but it seems to fall on deaf ears, it’s a vicious circle.”

Kirstie Fulthorpe, director of education at the National Autistic Society, said: “Our Anderson School was inspected last autumn and we were deeply disappointed that a number of standards were not being met.

“After the inspection, we wrote to families of our students to inform them of the result and our plans to improve.

“While the Inspectors highlighted some positives, it was clear that we were not meeting the high standards that we and, everyone involved in the school, expect.

“All new schools face challenges. But, as the inspection highlighted and despite out best efforts, we hadn’t introduced all the improvements required to overcome these challenges. Since then, we’ve been implementing an action plan to put things right.

“We know that some parents are concerned. We are keeping all parents, staff and the wider school community updated about our progress, as we drive through changes at the school.”

A spokesperson for Essex County Council said: ”Following a series of complaints and safeguarding concerns received regarding The Anderson School in Chigwell, which is owned by the National Autistic Society (NAS), Essex County Council took the decision in September 2019 to undertake a review of safeguarding procedures and processes at the school.

“The council decided at that point not to commission new places at the school pending the outcome of the review.

The safeguarding review was carried out with the agreement of the school and the NAS.

“Council officers have met regularly with senior staff at the school and the NAS to monitor progress against the recommendations from the review and the findings of the Ofsted inspection in October 2019.

“Discussions have taken place with parents within Essex whose children attend the school and work is ongoing with those parents who wish us to find alternative school provision for their children.

“The Local Authority, meanwhile, continues to work in partnership with the school and NAS to bring about the required improvements.”

The Anderson School is due for an unscheduled emergency inspection before May.

Essex Police has also been contacted for comment.