Ofsted reviews inspections of three Norfolk schools as Thetford Academy responds to new claims

Adrian Ball, executive principal of Thetford Academy.

Adrian Ball, executive principal of Thetford Academy. - Credit: Archant

The chief inspector of schools for England has announced a review of three Norfolk Ofsted inspections following allegations the academies received advance notice.

Chief Inspector of Schools in England and Head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA

Chief Inspector of Schools in England and Head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The news came as one of the schools concerned, Thetford Academy, defended itself against claims some pupils were told not to attend school on the day of its inspection.

It has emerged that allegations some Thetford Academy pupils were told to stay away during its inspection on July 1-2 were raised at a public meeting of the Redcastle Action Group in the town on June 30.

Terry Jermy, county councillor for Thetford West, said up to five residents made the claims, and the Benjamin Foundation confirmed Mike Towndrow, manager of a meet-up café in the town, told the meeting that pupils at the school told him the same thing that evening.

Adrian Ball, executive principal of Thetford Academy, said: 'As far as I am aware no students were told that. I will be investigating.'

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However, he said it was unlikely because inspectors examined lists of absent pupils on each day of the inspection, and compared them to a list of pupils with a disciplinary record.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said the review of inspections at Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey, and Great Yarmouth Primary Academy and Thetford Academy – both members of the Inspiration Trust – will also examine 'the wider handling of the sharing of information about our inspection schedules'.

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Dame Rachel de Souza is chief executive of the trust, and was executive principal of Victory Academy at the time of its inspection.

Sir Michael said: 'Ofsted's reputation for inspecting without fear or favour is absolutely central to all that we do. If any evidence comes to light that proves anyone within Ofsted or our contractors has shared information inappropriately, I will have no hesitation in taking the strongest possible action.'

Ormiston Academies Trust has denied any of its schools received prior notification apart from that allowed under Ofsted rules. Ofsted previously said none of the schools received early warning; the Inspiration Trust has said in a statement 'it is false to suggest otherwise'.

Dame Rachel could not be reached.

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

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