DESPITE being highly praised by Ofsted inspectors, Liphook Infant School has been rated “inadequate” after school leaders tried to resolve safeguarding issues.

Three inspectors, led by Peter Lambert, visited the school in The Avenue on December 8 and 9.

Out of four categories, they rated two as outstanding and two good.

But they concluded its leadership and management were “inadequate” after safeguarding concerns were not immediately referred to social workers.

Their report released on January 24 said: “Too often, leaders try to address concerns themselves when, in the first instance, these must be passed on to external agencies.”

In a letter to parents, the Federation of Liphook Infant and Junior Schools executive head Michele Frost said she felt this was an “unfair reflection of our standing”.

Ms Frost, presented with a Hampshire County Council Outstanding Contribution to Education award in January 2021, added: “Unfortunately, the leadership and management safeguarding rating impacts the overall rating of the school.

“The judgement has been made for the following reason.

“On fewer than five occasions, when we were concerned about a child’s welfare at home, we spoke to their parents first rather than immediately calling children’s services.

“I want to assure you the safety and well-being of your child is at the heart of everything we do.

“In the report, the inspectors found the safeguarding culture in the school ‘strong’. This will continue to be the case.

“We recognise wholeheartedly there are circumstances where we must call children’s services and our relationships with our families must not delay this from happening.

“We have written a comprehensive plan to ensure we maintain good practice to this end.”

The inspectors noted that when the omissions were pointed out to Ms Frost and chair of governors Steve Saycell, they were immediately addressed.

In the report, they said pupils’ development, their behaviour and attitude were “outstanding”.

Inspectors also praised the early years provision and the quality of education, saying they were “good”.

And they said staff understood the school’s safeguarding policies, were trained to recognise issues, and knew how to report them.

The inspectors are to return in three months to ensure the failing has been addressed.

The inadequate rating does not affect the school’s federated partner, Liphook Junior School.

Ofsted referred the Herald to its website, where it said: “When we judge a school as inadequate, we place it in a category of concern.

“This means we judge the school either to have serious weaknesses or to require special measures.”

The Herald was also referred to the school’s website, where the latest Ofsted report, its previous reports, its improvement plan and other documents related to the inspection are at