October 4, 2022 10.27 am This story is over 18 months old

“Disappointed” grammar school head hits back at ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating

Inspectors were not happy with safeguarding systems

The headteacher of a grammar school for boys and mixed sixth form in Sleaford has criticised an Ofsted inspection which labelled the institution ‘inadequate’.

In a statement, Head at Carre’s Grammar School, Nick Law, said inspectors’ report was “misleading” and disputed remarks about poor safeguarding systems.

Ofsted visited the school, which had a previous rating of ‘good’, on June 21 and 22, 2022.

They gave the school ‘good’ ratings for behaviour and sixth form provision, but marked personal development and quality of education as ‘requires improvement’. For leadership and management, Carre’s Grammar was rated ‘inadequate’, and the school was given an ‘inadequate’ rank overall.

The Ofsted report notes that pupils enjoy coming to the school, but that safeguarding systems were not robust enough. Inspectors wrote: “Leaders have not acted quickly enough to remedy identified weaknesses. Leaders have not checked the effectiveness of safeguarding systems. The systems and processes have deteriorated over time leaving some pupils at risk.”

The school’s Head Nick Law has written to Ofsted to complain about the assessment.

He argued the “conclusion made in the report is irrational” and the report acknowledged that “pupils feel safe and happy in the school” and “agree that teachers help them”.

He said inspectors’ concerns revolve around the way records are kept in different places and how often they are checked.

“A distinction needs to be recognised between highly sensitive Child Protection records and working records of the wider support team working with students to support their mental health or welfare.

“There is no statutory requirement for all records to be centralised. In actual fact we are required to keep safeguarding records separately from the child’s main school record which they are.”

Mr Law said that, when inspectors visited back in June, the school was in the midst of transferring all files to a new digital system which allows all records to be stored in one system but with layered and restricted access in the appropriate way. The switch is now completed.

“Any complaints about the way we store the information are irrelevant now and yet the school has been labelled as inadequate – it’s illogical and unfair.”

The school has now enlisted independent experts to carry out a review of the safeguarding policies and practices and says it has already addressed many the issues raised by Ofsted and developed plans to tackle others.

The school received a good grading for behaviour and attitude and good for its sixth form provision. Its grade for the quality of education was requires improvement – with the report noting that “there are still occasions when teachers do not use assessment well enough to check what pupils know”.

Bur Mr Law hit back at the assessment saying exam results are the real test of checking what pupils know. In the recent GCSE results 99% of students achieved grade 4 and above in five subjects and the school celebrated excellent A level results.

For personal development inspectors also graded the school as “requires improvement” claiming “pupils do not have a good enough understanding of some aspects of British values and relationships education”.

“I always welcome opportunities to check our progress and the Ofsted inspection is a way of seeing where we need to focus in order to reach the levels of excellence we strive for every day,” he said.

“But in this case I am both shocked and disappointed to see the findings of the report. I wholeheartedly disagree with much of the report and its conclusions and have written to Ofsted to make my case.

“Nevertheless we will continue to work hard to provide the best possible education and environment for our pupils and have already addressed many of the points raised by the inspectors back in June.”

The Lincolnite contacted Ofsted, but the school standards office was unable to comment further on the report when presented with the Headteacher’s criticisms.