Ofsted “reviewing its processes” after allegations Norfolk schools had advance notice of inspections

Dame Rachel de Souza with education minister Lord Nash. Picture: Denise Bradley Dame Rachel de Souza with education minister Lord Nash. Picture: Denise Bradley

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
8:00 AM

Ofsted is “reviewing its processes” following allegations that three Norfolk schools were tipped off about inspections before they happened.

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It follows claims from a teacher who worked at Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey at the time of its May 2013 inspection, when Dame Rachel de Souza was executive principal, that senior staff knew the exact dates the week before.

A national newspaper claimed Thetford Academy and Great Yarmouth Primary Academy also received tip-offs ahead of inspections this year. Both are part of the Norfolk-based Inspiration Trust, which Dame Rachel now leads.

Ofsted has denied the schools received advance notice and the Inspiration Trust said in a statement “it is false to suggest otherwise”.

Ormiston Academies Trust said it had never been given more than the standard half-a-day notice all schools get. Dame Rachel was unavailable for comment.

Ofsted said last night no-one had come forward with evidence, and the review of its processes was not a formal investigation.

Separately, Norfolk County Council will write to Ofsted and the Inspiration Trust about claims Thetford Academy was tipped off.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: “We are aware of what has been reported and we want to be sure that all of our children receive the high standard of education to which they are entitled.

“Ofsted inspection plays an important part in reassuring families and young people about the education provided by individual schools. The impartiality of the inspection process is vital in maintaining public confidence in Ofsted’s work.”

Ofsted said: “In order to manage the complex scheduling of inspection a number of teams at Ofsted have access to our scheduling information. Ofsted inspects without fear or favour and guards this integrity closely.

“All of these staff sign the Official Secrets Act and understand the importance of the integrity of the information they access. All staff and contractors also complete a conflict of interest pro forma.”

Do you have an education story? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

12 comments

  • Unlike Dame De Souza to be unavailable for a comment. Blowing ones own trumpet has been the method in the past.

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    Bruce87

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

  • Prior to 2010 Ofsted wrote to you up to 6 weeks in advance but since 2011 ALL schools should be telephoned just the afternoon before the inspection.

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    Sportswagon

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

  • My comment was not posted for some reason so I'll try again! I was working at a Norfolk High School in the 90s and we knew a week to 10 days before we were inspected. The Head had ample time to draw up plans as to where staff should be and what they should all be doing. It also allowed time for all the kids with behavioural problems to magically disappear on a trip somewhere for a few days until the inspection was over. I also know of some students who were told not to come in that day but to stay at home and work. If people really believe OFSTED inspectors arrive unannounced, they are deluded.

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    samphirelover

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • So if everything is hunky dory why does Ofsted need to review its procedures? Do they really expect us to believe that there was no talk about inspection when Sean Harford, Ofsted Chief for the East, R DeSouza and E Truss all went to Shanghai just before one of these inspections.

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    Sportswagon

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • Why review if all is ok?

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    Sportswagon

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • What is the surprise. My daughter's school is always tipped off. She knows because the quality of the food goes up, the corridors are squeaky clean, the dining hall helpers all wear hairnets and, most hilariously of all, had sanitising gel bottles appear everywhere.

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    alecto

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • Ofsted 'reviewing its processes' has an uncomfortable echo of Norfolk County Council's 'self-review' process after it succeeded in losing key submissions to the planning inspectorate regarding the Norwich Northern Distributor Road. I am not suggesting that these allegations are necessarily true, but they are widespread enough to deserve some kind of external investigation. Otherwise this will just roll and roll. Step forward, please, the EDP!

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    gilded beams

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • NCC should apply themselves to questioning the miraculously rapid turn around of one former high school in Ormiston's hands and the means by which this was achieved and whether they are prepared to entrust the education of Norfolk's children to these d!c£y dealers masquerading as academies

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • Dame Rachel "unavailable for comment"? That is a first.

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    Jonny

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • “All of these staff sign the Official Secrets Act". Oh please! Both Ofsted and the DfE leak like a sieve at the best of times. Several Norfolk Heads have mobile numbers for various HMIs as do the LEA and there is a great deal of chatting behind the scenes. The official line will be 'collaboration' - the truth is more like 'collusion'.

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    Fenscape 2

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • i wonder if de Souza has thought about resigning ?. After all, the buck stops at the top.

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    "V"

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • We know how it all works, this type of thing is rife, throughout the country....

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    John L Norton

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

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