Norfolk academies cleared of Ofsted tip-off

Dame Rachel de Souza, who was principal at the Norwich school and is the current chief executive of

Dame Rachel de Souza, who was principal at the Norwich school and is the current chief executive of the Inspiration Trust, which runs the academies in Thetford and Great Yarmouth. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

A high-level investigation in to allegations of a tip-off about Ofsted inspections at three Norfolk schools has cleared them of wrongdoing.

A high-level inquiry into allegations that three Norfolk schools were tipped off about Ofsted inspections has cleared them of wrongdoing.

It was claimed that Ormiston Victory Academy at Costessey, Thetford Academy and Great Yarmouth Primary Academy were given more than the usual half-day notice in May 2013 and 2014 and July 2014.

The schools all have links to Dame Rachel de Souza, who was principal at the Costessey school and is the chief executive of the Inspiration Trust, which runs the academies in Thetford and Great Yarmouth.

An inquiry was launched last month by Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, and led by Sir Robin Bosher, the director of quality and training, with 39 interviews conducted at the schools to establish the truth behind the claims.


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It was announced yesterday that the investigation 'found no evidence to substantiate the allegations that the three schools in question had improperly received prior notification of the dates of their Ofsted inspections in order to put them at an unfair advantage'.

Instead it said 'beyond hearsay, the investigation could not find any clear and reliable evidence to back this perception up or the rumours circulating that these schools were being afforded preferential treatment by the inspectorate'.

A pupil at one of the academies previously claimed pupils knew when Ofsted would come.

But in its main findings, the report said testimonies from school leaders, staff and students showed the schools were always preparing for an inspection a year or more before they took place, something the report called 'Ofsted readiness'.

It is also noted that the 'heightened and prolonged state of preparedness' for Ofsted inspections was not confined to a certain group of schools and some of the academies had been able to calculate the narrowing window in which their next inspection was likely to fall.

Dame Rachel was not available for comment.

What do you think about the findings? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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