Bury St Edmunds school at centre of Ofsted controversy praised for sixth form

Hugh O'Neill
Hugh O'Neill

A top performing Bury St Edmunds school which was the subject of a controversial Ofsted judgement has been praised nationally for its sixth form.

St Benedict’s Catholic School is still waiting for the results of a second inspection by the education watchdog after it withdrew an initial report which found the school ‘requires improvement’. It was removed under the ‘flawed inspection report’ protocal.

However, the school has been awarded a Grade One by the A Level Performance System (ALPS) - placing it in the top one per cent of schools nationally for A Level.

Head Hugh O’Neill said he hoped the ALPS report ‘sets the record straight’.

He said: “This has been the most extraordinary couple of months in the school’s long history. We have gone from the joy of seeing our students gaining wonderful GCSE and A level results to the shock of the Ofsted no-notice inspection and its now withdrawn report.

“It must be very difficult for parents and the wider public to know what to make of it all. We hope that this independent ALPS report sets the record straight.”

The school’s initial Ofsted visit was part of 40 ‘no notice’ inspections across the country in response to the alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ plot by hardline Muslims in schools in Birmingham.

It was triggered by a lack of information on the school’s recently revamped website about the new National Curriculum and the school’s citizenship programme.

The Ofsted report found that younger students ‘show less awareness of the dangers of extremism and radicalisation’.

However, it acknowledged the overall achievement of students had ‘improved markedly’ in 2014 with sixth form students attaining particularly high standards.

Mr O Neill added that Grade 1 in the ALPS report is only awarded to a school that equals or exceeds the results of the top performing school of the previous year. He praised the sixth formers, teachers and long serving head of sixth form Jack Gingell.