A primary school in Lewisham claims an Ofsted inspector came in with an “agenda” and told “pure lies” in her report which ranked the establishment as “inadequate”.
Springfield Christian School was given the rating in its first Ofsted inspection since its previous regulator, the Bridge Schools Inspectorate (BSI), lost its approved status on September 30. Ofsted have now inspected 22 faith schools previously linked to BSI.
Headteacher Seun Adebayo has lodged an official complaint and strongly criticised lead Ofsted inspector Ann Debono. She said: “She came with an intent to fail the school because of being linked to BSI.” The school is challenging the decisions and believes the report contains “a lot of contradictions and a lot of lies”.
In a letter written to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw raised concerns after 17 of the schools inspected were judged as inadequate or requiring improvement. Springfield was one of eight schools not to meet the standard for safeguarding children.
Springfield’s Ofsted report said: “The proprietors do not carry out the required checks on the suitability of all staff to work with children,” and that staff “had commenced employment pending the required checks and with poor references.”
The school feels that this is an unfair judgment. “The claim about safeguarding is inaccurate information. When hiring staff, if you are coming from another work within three months you can bring your Criminal Record Bureau check from a previous place. She was transferring from one nursery to the next. We checked her CRB.”
“I believe this is to do with the radicalisation of faith schools. They [Ofsted] want to be seen to be doing something. They are targeting schools to show that BSI have not been thorough in their job.”
The BSI was an independent inspectorate for faith schools belonging to the Christian Schools’ Trust and the Association of Muslim Schools. Sir Michael detailed in his letter that one school, Al-Ameen Primary School in Birmingham, was “not protecting pupils from reading inappropriate literature about extremist, sexist or partisan views.”
They found that at Darul Uloom Islamic High School in Birmingham “the only female governor sat out of sight of the male governors in an adjacent room to the main meeting. As a result, she could only contribute to the meeting through a doorway.”
As a result, Sir Michael recommended “that the Department of Education and Ofsted officials work together to prioritise the inspection of the remaining schools previously inspected by BSI.”
Graham Coyal, a spokesperson for The Christian Schools’ Trust told Eastlondonlines that more of their schools were considering complaining, and that regulation changes are hitting small independent schools hard: “The way the inspection has developed is making it difficult for any small independent school to manage the regulations, it has led to the movement of responsibility from parents to the state.”
The Association of Muslim Schools were surprised by how little guidance they were given about new requirements: “We are saddened to note that these schools did not receive sufficient time to respond to the changed and onerous expectations and requirements for school inspection against Ofsted’s new Common Inspection Framework.”
Adebayo said: “How do we know that Ofsted inspectors are doing what they should do when they come to the school? Who is monitoring Ofsted inspectors? Ofsted is allowed to get away with anything.”
Ofsted said: “While we do not confirm or comment on complaints received, we take them very seriously. All complaints received about Ofsted’s work are handled rigorously and in line with our published complaints policy.”
Follow Henry Longden on Twitter @HenryLongden