A Downham academy has been branded inadequate by inspectors, who highlighted "serious weaknesses" and problems with a "significant minority of pupils".

Haberdashers’ Aske’s Knights Academy in Launcelot Road was visited by inspectors in November and Ofsted has just published the critical report.

Inspectors wrote: "The behaviour of a significant minority of pupils disrupts teaching and slows down or prevents others from learning." Some pupils were seen to be "disrespectful and argumentative", it said.

When bullying occurred it included "verbal and physical intimidation" with the casual use of hurtful and homophobic language. Some pupils felt nervous about reporting bullying, despite a strict policy at the school.

Last year, News Shopper reported how a 14-year-old student at the school claimed to have been attacked so viciously by bullies she suffered memory loss.

Ofsted inspectors concluded the quality of teaching, pupil achievement and leadership all required improvement, while pupil behaviour and safety was inadequate.

The report is a step down for the 1,529-student all-through school, which was previously given a 'Good' rating by Ofsted.

However, the school - which has a high number of children from disadvantaged families - was also praised for its work in improving pupil achievement and principal Tesca Bennett  is said to have taken "decisive action to drive improvement in achievement" since her appointment in September 2012.

Dr Bennett said: "We are of course disappointed with the grading that Ofsted has given the school and will be taking this very seriously to ensure the necessary further improvements are brought about.

"We are pleased, however, that Ofsted was so positive about the work we are doing and the transformation in the school since it opened in 2006."

She said the school had launched a "quiet room" for lunchtime work, support had been provided from other schools in Haberdasher's Federation and that staff had received training on how to respond to pupils through an anti-bullying policy.

And she said: "In addition we have clarified to all pupils the academy's policy on the unacceptable use of discriminatory and derogatory homophobic language."