Ipswich: Ofsted ignoring our best-ever grades - head

An angry headteacher today blasted a critical Ofsted report which found his school “requires improvement” – claiming inspectors ignored his students’ record-breaking GCSE results.

Westbourne Sports College saw a 16 per cent rise in pupils attaining five or more A* to C grades including English and maths this summer.

But headteacher Chris Edwards says the ongoing national dispute over the way in which English papers were marked and the subsequent legal challenge means Westbourne’s bumper GCSE grades were not taken into account by inspectors.

Mr Edwards believes if they had been, the school – which was inspected in September – would have been given a ‘good’ rating.

The report means that Westbourne will be inspected again within 12 to 18 months, rather than within the usual three years. The school must demonstrate improvement over two inspections – if it fails to do so it will be plunged into special measures.

Mr Edwards said: “The inspectors said they could only take account of the official results at this time. This was very frustrating for us as our results this summer were the highest ever. Unfortunately until the results are put right by the forthcoming legal challenge, the inspectors chose to completely ignore the 2012 results. We were in effect being judged by exam results from a year ago.”

Ofsted inspection reports grade schools between 1 (outstanding) and 4 (inadequate). The Ofsted rating of “satisfactory” for schools – awarded to Westbourne during its last inspection two years ago – was recently scrapped as part of plan designed to tackle schools deemed as “coasting”.

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No school is now allowed to stay in the “requiring improvement” category for more than three years. Westbourne’s pupils’ achievement was graded as “requiring improvement”, as was the quality of teaching and leadership and management.

The behaviour and safety of pupils was graded as “good”.

Mr Edwards said: “Had our inspection come in a few weeks’ time, after the results had been corrected, we would have achieved a grade 2 (good).”

An Ofsted spokesman said: “Exam results alone do not determine inspection judgements.

“School inspectors evaluate a range of evidence and this includes looking at pupils’ work in class as well as their progress and attainment, the quality of teaching, pupils’ behaviour and safety, and leadership and management.”

Despite being disappointed at how the inspection was carried out, Mr Edwards said he was pleased with other aspects of the report which highlighted pupils’ improvements in maths and setting high standards for students.

What do you think of the exam grading controversy? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk