AN INDEPENDENT school in Gwent has made "slow" progress and faces "persistent" staffing challenges, inspectors have found.

A team from Estyn visited Talocher School, near Monmouth, recently on a monitoring visit after the school was found to have fallen short of national regulations.

During the most recent visit, inspectors found "caring and patient" staff were "resilient in the face of daily challenges" but the school still does not comply with the national standards.

The Welsh Government may now be invited to recommend the school stops admitting new pupils until there is an improvement in performance.

Talocher School, in Monmouthshire, is an independent special school for pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs and autistic spectrum conditions. There are currently 50 pupils enrolled, and school is registered to teach learners aged 7-19.

After its most recent visit to the school, Estyn said "persistent challenges" around the recruitment and retention of staff "limit the pace of progress" against recommendations inspectors imposed two years ago.

Teachers and support staff "work well together as a team" and are "committed to improving outcomes" for pupils.

But the speed of progress to improve standards has been "too slow", inspectors said.

Workforce challenges "increase the pressure on staff working at the school, and reduce their capacity to relax and reflect on their own practice during the school day", they added.

Practice at the school has been "too generic" since its current owners took the helm, and fail to comply with Welsh regulations on curriculum standards and policies to "safeguard and promote the welfare of children at the school".

"These shortcomings mean that pupils' progress in learning, as well as the safety and well-being of pupils and staff, is inadequate and a cause for concern," the inspectors judged.

"Given the slow progress against the recommendations from the core inspection and the increase in the areas of non-compliance... the Welsh Government may wish to recommend formally to the school that it should not accept new pupils at the school until these matters have been addressed," the Estyn team added.

Inspectors recommended the school improve staff retention and recruitment, and "strengthen the quality of leadership and management at all levels".

Estyn also said Talocher School should bring in a "co-ordinated therapeutic approach" for all pupils, as well as a "professional learning programme" for teachers and support staff "to develop consistent approaches to supporting pupils and managing behaviour across the school".