SCHOOL inspectors have ordered Polam Hall in Darlington to improve its boarding facilities.

While overall the boarding section of the school was found to be good, several areas were highlighted by Ofsted to need improvement.

Inspectors said: "The arrangements for caring for boarding students who are unwell are insufficient. There are no healthcare facilities within the school for unwell boarding students. Sometimes, unwell boarding students are left alone in their boarding house, with periodic checks made by school staff. This leaves them isolated and unable to summon help quickly.

"Shortfalls in the safe administration of medication were highlighted during this inspection."

They said there were no systems in place to ensure all medication was safely accounted for, some medication was out of date and not all the medication charts were fully filled in.

They also said staffing levels needed to be improved to increase them from two boarding staff to care for 23 boarding students.

Kate Reid, Polam Hall principal, said: "We are very proud that our Boarding provision has been judged to be good. The report states that our boarders are ’thriving and developing valuable life skills as a direct result of their attendance at this school’. We were particularly pleased that the students themselves identified ‘that their relationships with boarding staff and with each other are ‘one of the best things’.

"The report also praises the range of support offered to students by school, such as the school counsellor and provision for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

"Transition and pastoral provision for boarding students, both in the boarding house and in the wider school, was judged to be good. Students ‘are encouraged to learn independence skills and good careers advice is available’.

"All organisations can improve and the report does, of course, identify some areas for development. (We) have formed an action plan which we began implementing as soon as the inspectors left in May."