MP accuses Ofsted of sending 'inspection hit squad with pre-arranged agenda' to Kettering school
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The education watchdog has been accused of sending an ‘inspection hit squad with a pre-arranged agenda’ to a Kettering school.
Last month Bishop Stopford School was downgraded by Ofsted from outstanding – a rating it had held since 2008 – to requires improvement.
The Headlands school’s headteacher said she was ‘extremely disappointed’ by the report, with a formal complaint lodged over the inspection process.
And this week Kettering MP Philip Hollobone told Parliament a genuine injustice had been done – calling for the inspection to be quashed.
The Conservative, who has a child at the school, said: "From the information I have received, I believe not only that the correct procedures were not followed, but that the inspection team deliberately set out to engineer a downgrade in the school’s Ofsted rating from outstanding to requires improvement.
"That is the equivalent of one of the highest scoring teams in the Premier League being relegated straight to the Conference.”
Ofsted has since invited Mr Hollobone – who said he believed the school had been picked on – to meet with His Majesty's Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman.
In their report inspectors said that work needed to be done on behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership at the Church of England school.
But headteacher Jill Silverthorne, who watched from the public gallery as Mr Hollobone spoke at Westminster Hall, said the report simply didn’t recognise their ‘enormous’ strengths.
The school is currently in the country’s top 1.5 per cent for educational attainment and top three per cent for progress 8 scores. Its brass band recently took centre stage at the Royal Albert Hall.
Hundreds of schools which were outstanding were visited in the last academic year after a 2012 clause which made them exempt from regular reinspection was lifted. Only 17 per cent kept their rating.
Mr Hollobone said that since the report’s publication about 500 parents had offered their support to the school. He also claimed that inspectors ‘disparaged’ the school’s Christian ethos in interviews with pupils.
He said: "Until now, I have had every confidence in Ofsted’s abilities to inspect schools in line with proper process and to challenge them where improvements can be made, but I have to tell the minister that it is my strong view that this Ofsted inspection has gone wrong. It should be quashed, and a fresh inspection undertaken with different inspectors. I know that this is a serious request, and I do not make it lightly.
“The evidence I have heard from the headteacher, the deputy head and pupils at the school is compelling. I believe that the inspection team sent in by Ofsted went rogue. In effect, Ofsted has sent in an educational inspection hit squad with a pre-arranged agenda to downgrade this faith-based school, whatever it found on its visit.”
A Bishop Stopford School spokesman said: "The school is grateful to Mr Hollobone as their constituency MP for seeking to engender a debate which has the potential to significantly improve the system.
"In the intervening time the school is already engaged in working towards the improvement priorities suggested to us by Ofsted.”
An Ofsted spokesman said: “We take all complaints and concerns about our work seriously. The concerns raised about this inspection have been investigated thoroughly.”