A ‘highly regarded’ community school is challenging a damning Ofsted report as parents voiced support for staff and governors – and it emerged there were irregularities with an online survey.
Rougham Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary was judged ‘inadequate’ by the education watchdog which found that ‘too many weaknesses are holding the school back’.
However, governors and parents say the report ‘is in no way a fair reflection of the school’ and have called for a re-inspection.
Terry Jennings, chairman of governors, has lodged a complaint about the conduct of the inspection. He said: “We are all extremely proud of our school. The judgement is unduly harsh and gives and unbalanced account of the school, which is highly regarded within the community and beyond.”
The school was previously rated as ‘good’ and inspectors said leaders and governors have been ‘too slow to identify a decline in the quality of education’.
They judged that the local authority had not provided ‘sufficient challenge and support to the leaders, particularly the headteacher when new in post’.
The judgement is unduly harsh and gives and unbalanced account of the school.Terry Jennings
However, they noted that teachers’ assessment of outcomes in key stage one last year showed pupils attained above the national average in reading, writing and mathematics.
In key stage two, attainment for reading was similar to the national average, above for writing but ‘significantly below’ in mathematics.
Pupils feel ‘safe and trust adults to support and help them’.
In a statement, the school’s parent body said: “Parents stand by the school and still believe that this school provides ‘good’ education to our children within a nurturing environment.
“From the warm welcome at the door from the ladies in the office to the dedicated and passionate teachers, leaders and teaching assistants.”
Parent Ali Hagger said: “It’s a lovely school. Any school has its issues and there are things that could be better but the idea it’s a failing school is ridiculous.”
Parent Sarah Woodhouse said: “It’s like Ofsted visited a different school than the one I recognise, than the one my son experiences on a daily basis.”
She said they chose Rougham because of the ‘fantastic parent views, the happy children and the wonderful environment’.
Parent Alison Turner said her daughter was ‘blossoming into a very confident, independent and well rounded little girl’.
She said: “That is down to her fantastic school life which I have yet to find fault in.”
Their confidence in the process has also been shaken after Ofsted removed a number of ‘unreliable’ submissions to its Parent View survey, which Rougham Primary said amounted to 114 responses.
This was after the school raised concerns about a large number of negative responses.
The watchdog says the survey had been ‘misused’ as a ‘significant number’ of submissions were from the same two IP addresses but this had ‘no influence on the inspection judgement’.
Parent governor Beth Stacey questioned how the misuse could have happened when such a result to the questionnaire ‘must surely set the context’ for an inspection.
She said: “Parents and pupils deserve to have a true reflection of their views heard.”
A spokesman for Ofsted said: “All inspection reports on schools judged inadequate are thoroughly moderated, to ensure the findings are robust and firmly supported by evidence.
“All schools have the right to make a complaint about their inspection.”
Headteacher Diane Grimes said: “Despite the disappointing outcome, we are a strong, united team determined to make any necessary adjustments so that we can quickly reach the position we deserve.”
Sue Cook, director for children and young people at Suffolk County Council, said it was working with the school’s leaders to ‘rapidly address’ the issues raised by Ofsted.
Visit www.ofsted.gov.uk to read the report.