The headmaster of a private school is under fire from inspectors for keeping a 7ft snake and tarantulas in his office. An Ofsted report says that the Reverend Chris Oakey kept the spiders and the huge boa constricter on school premises even though no risk assessment was carried out.
Luton Pentecostal Church Christian Academy in Bedfordshire, which costs £240 a month, was rated as inadequate overall following the inspection, which also found no checks had been carried out on school staff to ensure they were suitable to work with children. Inspectors said the school owner had not made sure risk assessments were carried out and updated, using the example of the creatures being kept in the principal’s office.
The report went on to say that there were a number of other school pets, designed to enhance the work of the organisation. However, it is not clear what type of animal they were. They school is a small organisation with just 58 pupils, aged from three to 13.
In an earlier inspection, it was rated as good, but inspectors this time around felt that standards had slipped. Inspectors found that proper checks were not carried out on school staff. Instead, officials relied on the fact that they already knew employees before they were taken on.
The report also said there was no first aid policy in place and that pupils’ attainment was below what was expected for their age. However, Ofsted inspectors did point out that students were polite, friendly, well-mannered and well-behaved and that school leaders were committed to improving standards.
Public Health England says reptiles are not suitable as pets for schools and that they carry salmonella. However, Andrea Williams from Christian Concern said that the snake and tarantula had been away from pupils as lessons were carried out on the ground floor, whereas the principal’s quarters were upstairs.