A frustrated headteacher has slammed Ofsted for a ‘joke’ inspection carried out while the school had no electricity – and teachers were unable to access vital resources.
Inspectors ruled Caistor Yarborough Academy (CYA) ‘Requires Improvement’ after writing a scathing report about the quality of education at the school - during a power cut.
CYA headteacher Mark Midgley said he was ‘profoundly appalled’ and has described the findings as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘flawed’.
He has now lodged an 11,500-word complaint to the school inspector, saying it did not take into account the ‘exceptional circumstances’ staff were working under.
In a letter to parents, Mr Midgley said: “In 20 years of educational leadership I have never seen such a poor process that lacked integrity, professional standards and conduct.
“I am both profoundly appalled and professionally disappointed at the way Ofsted conducted our inspection.”
Mr Midgley is now calling for a new inspection under ‘normal, fair and reasonable circumstances’.
He told the Rasen Mail: “It’s been a bit of a disaster really, it’s a nightmare.
“It’s not mentioned anywhere [in the report] about the exceptional circumstances.
“It’s very concerning. My hope is that no other school will have to go through this.
“I’m not a badge collector as a headteacher, I don’t do it for Ofsted.
“You can’t beat Ofsted because it’s a machine.
“I don’t want to come across as a whinging headteacher, bitter and twisted, because I’m not.
“It’s flawed - the report is not accurate.
“The whole process has been a joke.
“We fundamentally believe the inspection is incomplete.
“All the staff resources are held on a network... staff didn’t have resources to teach – everything’s online. We couldn’t even take attendance [registers] or provide hot meals.
“It doesn’t represent us. All I want is for Ofsted to see the school as everybody else does.
“The school is a good school.”
Mr Midgley said inspectors spent two days at the school and assessed teaching standards on day one - when the school had no power.
The school was found to be ‘Good’ in all other areas, but the low ‘quality of education’ judgement meant the overall rating was brought down.
The Ofsted report was particularly critical of the school’s curriculum for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
But Mr Midgley disagreed. He said: “We got ‘Requires Improvement’ for SEND - it’s ridiculous because it’s not.”
Department for Education figures published two days before the inspection last November showed all pupils’ taking GCSE exams in 2019 gained their target grades - but Mr Midgley said inspectors failed to consider this data.
He said: “It was a bit of a farce to be fair, and very frustrating.
“Every subject area has improved and every student got into their chosen destination route.”
And Mr Midgley said parents were ‘amazingly’ happy with the school and its roll numbers were going up every year.
In a letter to the headteacher, one parent said: “[We] have to express in the strongest terms possible our support for your formal complaint.
“The description this ‘report’ presents of the quality of education, particularly for SEND provision, bears no relationship to the experience my daughter reports to us on an almost daily basis.
“I find this report little more than a poorly informed insult to the tremendous work you all do.
“[We] have, in different capacities, been involved in education and support for young people for nearly 30 years; we know what ‘Requires Improvement’ looks like and it’s not represented in any shape or form at Caistor Yarborough.”
And another parent said: “I am really sad that this report has nothing positive to say about the SEND provision that your school provides.
“As a family we are extremely happy with the individualised curriculum that our son receives.
“Our experience of SEND in your school has been outstanding.”
Mr Midgley - who has been headteacher at CYA for the past two-and-a-half years - said a new Ofsted framework came in last September and he was aware of problems with inspections across the country.
Caistor Yarborough Academy has 363 pupils on its roll and was previously inspected in July 2017, when it was also found to be requiring improvements.
Speaking at the time, Mr Midgley said he was ‘proud’ of the progress the school had made since he took over and believed things would continue to improve. Before this, the academy was rated ‘Inadequate’ in January 2012, and then ‘Requires Improvement’ in February 2013, and again in January 2015.
Lincolnshire County Council interim assistant director for education, Martin Smith said: “As a local authority, we do not inspect schools, as this is the function of Ofsted.
“However, we have visited the school over recent years and have seen positive action being taken to bring about a number of improvements.
“We are aware of the school’s complaint to Ofsted, and the academy will be keeping us informed of the outcome of this complaint.”
An Ofsted spokesman said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases but take every complaint seriously.”