Controversy has engulfed a critical judgement of a top performing Bury St Edmunds school after Ofsted revealed concerns about the quality assurance of the report.
St Benedict’s Catholic School, which celebrated strong exam results this summer, was found to ‘require improvement’ after a snap Ofsted inspection last month - despite being rated ‘good’ in June.
The school, in Beeton’s Way, published the report on its website yesterday afternoon but this morning received a call from Ofsted which revealed it had concerns about the quality assurance of the report and advised to take it down from the school’s website until further instruction.
Head Hugh O’Neill said the quality assurance process involves checks by an Ofsted team to ensure the evidence used to make the judgement is sound.
He said the report will now be the subject of a second quality assurance, which he felt was ‘unusual’.
Mr O’Neill said: “The school hasn’t put in any complaint about the report - taking the report down hasn’t been triggered by anything the school has done.”
He said the ‘no-notice’ inspection, part of a response to the alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ plot by hardline Muslims in schools in Birmingham, was triggered by a lack of information on its recently revamped website about the new National Curriculum and the school’s citizenship programme.
Mr O’Neill said the information is now on their website and the school teaches pupils about citizenship for half an hour a week.
The report found disabled students and those who had joined with poor academic records from other schools were not progressing as they should, and students’ performances fluctuated between years and subjects.
Although the report found Mr O’Neill to be a well respected head, other leadership roles were ‘not effective enough’ in the work of the school.
However the report acknowledged the overall achievement of students had ‘improved markedly’ in 2014, with sixth form students attaining particularly high standards.
Inspectors also noted the students’ good behaviour and conscientious attitude made a ‘very positive contribution’ to their learning.
Mr O’Neill said if the report was found to contain ‘incorrect statements’ it could be ‘quite damaging’ for St Benedict’s as many parents will have already seen the ‘requires improvement’ report.
He said: “It’s obviously troubling that the report should go out to the public at a time when we’re attempting to recruit pupils only to have it withdrawn when any potential damage has been done.”
He added that he has been heartened by responses from parents, students and colleagues who have said they ‘don’t regard it (the report) as a true relection of the school’.
The school celebrated its best GCSE results in the last three years in August with a 100 per cent pass rate and 71 per cent of students achieving five A*-C grades - an 18-point rise from 2013’s results.
A spokesman for Ofsted said: “Following a review of the report by the East of England Regional Director, we have delayed the publication of the report to allow further quality assurance checks to take place.”
It is not known when the revised report will be published.