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Ofsted's apology for inspector's behaviour

Chris Russell
Chris Russell

by Graham Tutthill

Ofsted has apologised for the “unacceptable behaviour” of one of its top staff during an inspection at a Dover school.

No details have been revealed of the exact circumstances, but Chris Russell, chief executive of the Dover Federation for the Arts, said he had received an “eventual apology” for the way the inspection was conducted at Astor College for the Arts and the “unacceptable behaviour” of the lead inspector.

Mr Russell said such experiences brought Ofsted into professional disrepute.

He said he was also “deeply saddened” by the changes Ofsted had made over the past year as a result of what looked like pressure from government to support its education policy.

“It seems to me completely illogical that young people in the non-selective high schools should be crudely judged against the same floor targets as grammar schools and comprehensives.

“Judgements are now so limiting that, if achievement is not at national average, it is almost impossible to get above ‘satisfactory’ and it is generally accepted that many more schools will go into Category,” he said.

Astor is currently within the National Challenge, which threatens schools with being taken over if they don’t achieve 30 per cent GCSEs at A* to C grades including English and maths.

But Mr Russell said the challenge was “discriminatory and flawed”.

He said he had tried to put his point of view to both Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Education Secretary Ed Balls

“I tried to put over exactly what happens on the ground in a highly challenging area to the Secretary of State, but he said he did not want to know.

“In a meeting with the Prime Minister’s delivery unit, I did likewise and, when I asked if this message really would get to him I was told, ‘yes, but whether he listens is another matter!

“National Challenge is incredibly demotivating for good high schools working in areas of selection, especially where there is considerable socio-economic deprivation.”

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