Thetford Academy denies claims of advance Ofsted inspection warning

The new buildings at the Thetford Academy, Croxton Road
The new buildings at the Thetford Academy, Croxton Road
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Bosses at a Thetford school have denied allegations it was given advance warning of Ofsted inspections.

Thetford Academy was one of three schools run by the Inspiration Trust which were accused in a national newspaper of receiving advance warning of inspections, with the first allegation dating back to May, 2013.

Adrian Ball, executive principal at Thetford Academy, said while the school was aware it would probably have an inspection after its sixth form students returned from their study leave on June 30, it did not know the exact dates.

“As a school in special measures, we know we are seen by Ofsted once a term. We stand in a permanent state of Ofsted readiness,” he said.

Whistleblowers said Thetford Academy, which recorded its best ever A-level results last week, knew of its Ofsted inspections on July 1 and 2 this year ‘at least two weeks’ before the inspection date.

The whistleblowers added there was ‘lots of feverish activity’ in the academy on June 28 to prepare for the visit – two days before its official notice from Ofsted.

The school was given a positive inspection verdict last month.

Ofsted has denied it gave advance warning to any of the trust’s schools.

An Ofsted spokesman said: “Information about Ofsted’s inspection schedule is tightly controlled. It would not be possible for associate inspectors, who undertake occasional inspection work for Ofsted, to access scheduling details.

“Should someone come forward with relevant information regarding these allegations we would look into this, in line with our complaints procedure.”

When asked, the Inspiration Trust denied having advance warning of Thetford Academy’s inspection.

A statement from its trustees said: “Inspiration Trust’s schools are subject to the same inspection criteria by Ofsted as any other school or academy.

“The Thetford Academy monitoring inspections show progress being made on each occasion.

“We are delighted by the strong progress being made in our academies. Communities that had relied on failing schools for years are now seeing dramatic improvements in educational outcomes across all age groups.”