School penalised by Ofsted for being ‘too British’

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A much-improved Middle Rasen school has missed out on top grades because government school inspectors says its pupils are not multi-cultural enough.

In its latest judgement, Ofsted has awarded Middle Rasen Primary School a 2 or ‘good’ rating, praising the school for its management and teaching, plus its well-behaved, courteous and enthusiastic pupils.

The grade was an improvement on the 3 or ‘satisfactory’ awarded last year, but Ofsted denied the school a 1 or ‘outstanding’ rating saying: “Pupil’s cultural development is limited by lack of first-hand experience of the diverse make-up of modern British society.”

The community primary school has a school roll of 104 pupils aged 4-11.

“The large majority of pupils are White British. Very few are from other ethnic groups, and currently no pupils speak English as an additional language,” said Ofsted.

To improve further Ofsted said the school needed to:

“Extend pupils’ understanding of the cultural diversity of modern British Society by creating opportunities for them to have first-hand interaction with their counterparts from different backgrounds beyond the immediate vicinity.”

Headteacher Melonie Brunton said: “We would have liked to be ‘outstanding’ but we were very pleased to have got the very positive comments.”

“We all worked really hard - everybody, the staff and the pupils have worked hard. It’s a team effort and we are very pleased with the report.”

When questioned further, Ms Brunton defended the school’s work on multi-culturalism saying this is “an issue for Lincolnshire schools.”

Official government census figures from 2011 say ethnic minorities make up less than 3 per cent of the population in West Lindsey, the lowest in Lincolnshire.

Ms Brunton says the school is looking to ‘partner up’ with an inner city school, saying if pupils cannot visit them, they can Skype.

The school usually takes children on trips to the countryside, such as farms and zoos but not the big cities, although it recently had a trip to Derby, which included a mosque as well as visiting Rolls-Royce.

“We try to do things but not enough,” she said.

Ms Brunton said she felt the Ofsted comments were a “backlash against the Birmingham Trojan Horse” issue with “Ofsted very keen on British values.”

“I think it’s a case of (them) having to find something you have to develop. Very good things are happening (here). It’s (them) trying to find something (for us) to improve,” she added.

Ofsted also said the pupils behaved well, which made the school a calm and orderly place to be.

They were proud to talk about the many jobs they do to serve their school, such as lunch, assembly or register monitors. They are also happy to help with tidying up and they help with charity fundraising events.

“Pupil’s cultural development is good. They learn about different people’s social and ethnic backgrounds, customs and beliefs. However, opportunities for them to develop a deeper understanding of the nature of modern British society by interacting at first hand with their counterparts from different cultural backgrounds beyond the immediate locality are underdeveloped,” it continued.

Elsewhere, the school was praised for its teaching, which saw the children gain an extensive vocabulary, the work was challenging and children made good progress.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We judged this school to be good across all areas including leadership and management, teaching quality, and pupils’ behaviour and safety.

“All schools must teach pupils about fundamental British values including mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. That way they will be prepared for the future wherever they go.”