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Schools inspector Ofsted apologies over controversial visit to Astor College for the Arts

ByVictoria Chessum

Schools inspector Ofsted has issued an apology over its controversial visit to Astor College for the Arts.

It was revealed last week that the 988-pupil school was set to be rated inadequate following a visit from Ofsted inspectors.

But in a highly unusual step, Ofsted has now sent a letter to the school apologising for the “inconvenience” caused by its initial visit and revealed Astor will now be re-inspected.

Ofsted said the school requires improvement last year - but its most recent inspection has outlined what it is doing to raise standards
Ofsted said the school requires improvement last year - but its most recent inspection has outlined what it is doing to raise standards

On Friday, after the story broke in the media, the school’s chief executive officer, Chris Russell, wrote a letter to parents and guardians.

He said: “I should like to inform you that the college is not in special measures.

“Ofsted have apologised for their shortcomings and the fact that their inspection was incomplete.

The school's chief executive officer, Chris Russell, said a new team from Ofsted will re-inspect the school in the "near future."
The school's chief executive officer, Chris Russell, said a new team from Ofsted will re-inspect the school in the "near future."

“A new team will be visiting the college in the near future.”

The previous visit took place on March 26 and 27. Ofsted cannot give a date for the re-inspection because visits tend to go ahead with “little or no notice.”

Despite requests from the Mercury, Ofsted has not revealed what went wrong with the initial inspection. A spokesman said an inspection grade cannot not be confirmed until a report is published.

Ofsted logo
Ofsted logo

The spokesman said: “Ofsted carries out more than 6,000 inspections of schools each year.

'In the vast majority of cases the quality of our inspection reports are accurate and robust.' - Ofsted

“In the vast majority of cases the quality of our inspection reports are accurate and robust.

“On the very rare occasion when an inspection or the report does not meet the high standards we expect, we take immediate action to secure the accuracy and quality of the inspection and the report. 

“This may include a follow-up visit to a provider to reassess the inspection findings and judgement.”

Dover county councillor and Labour’s education spokesman, Gordon Cowan, raised the issue of Ofsted’s Astor visit at an agenda setting meeting for the Education and Young People’s Services Committee on Tuesday last week.

Kent County Council councillor Gordon Cowan
Kent County Council councillor Gordon Cowan

He said he was very surprised and concerned at the news. Astor is part of the Dover Federation for the Arts, which includes White Cliffs Primary College, Shatterlocks Infant School, and others - schools which have all received excellent results.

Cllr Cowan told the Mercury this week he plans to raise the issue with Roger Gough, KCC Cabinet member for education.

He said: “When there are agenda items on there I always ask questions around it, as it concerns our community.

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask these questions.”

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