Fakenham High School head says record GCSE results shows Ofsted’s inadequate rating for the school was harsh

Fakenham High School head teacher Matthew Parr-Burman. Picture: Ian Burt

Fakenham High School head teacher Matthew Parr-Burman. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Fakenham High School's headteacher has questioned Ofsted's judgement after the school produced all-time record high GCSE results less than four months after being rated inadequate by the education watchdog.

Headteacher Matthew Parr-Burman said the results demonstrate that Fakenham High is a good school.

He believes the school received its 'inadequate' rating and was placed in special measures because Ofsted 'had an agenda' to send a strong message to Norfolk's schools.

He said he thought that inspectors went into the school with a predetermined mind-set and were looking for evidence to give the school the low rating.

Mr Parr-Burman said he was even told by one inspector on the first morning of the two-day inspection that the school was likely to be placed in special measures.

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He said: 'Ofsted wanted to give schools in Norfolk a kick up the backside and I completely understand that because that is what is needed.

'But I feel that our inadequate rating was harsh. I believe that Ofsted singled out what they saw as under-performing schools and went in to find evidence of them under performing.

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'We weren't expecting an Ofsted inspection but they picked on us because we had poor GCSE results last year and that gave them an open goal.

'Since the inspection, five headteachers have looked around the school and they all said they were surprised it was placed in special measures.'

He added: 'Don't get me wrong, I believe that some of Ofsted's observations about the school were spot on and we have taken them on board because I know that we need to improve further.

'Hopefully these GCSE results will give parents reassurance that we are moving in the right direction.'

The Ofsted report, published in May, says the school was not showing sufficient capacity for improvement and too much teaching is inadequate or requires improvement.

An Ofsted spokesman said: 'While we do not comment on individual schools, Ofsted inspections are based firmly on evidence and we do not predict the outcome of any future inspection or set of examinations.

'When judging the overall effectiveness of a school, inspectors look at four key areas; one of these is the achievement of pupils, but our judgements do not rest solely on the outcomes of examinations. We also evaluate the quality of teaching; the behaviour and safety of pupils; and the quality of leadership and management of the school.

'The decision to judge a school inadequate is not made lightly and we have a rigorous quality assurance process to ensure that the judgement made is an accurate reflection of the overall performance of a school.'

Fakenham High School will be taken out of special measures on Sunday when it officially becomes an academy and part of the Transforming Education in Norfolk (TEN) Group.

Mr Parr-Burman said he expects another Ofsted inspection by Easter 2014.

He said: 'Our results are the consequence of two years of hard work at the school, they are not a reaction to the inspection.

'I predicted that we would see a big improvement in GCSE results this year because teaching is improving, students' behaviour and attitude are much better and, although we are not yet where I believe we should be, the school is moving in the right direction.

'Becoming an academy and part of the TEN Group will help further as we will have access to more resources, support and guidance.'

He added: 'I actually think getting an inadequate rating, as tough as it was to take at the time, will help the school in the long-term and will spur us on to keep on improving further.'

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