Co-op Academy Priesthorpe principal slams damning Ofsted report as 'unjust' and 'misjudged'

A Leeds principal has slammed the first damning Ofsted report since the school became an academy as 'unjust' and 'misjudged' and made an official complaint.

By Daniel Sheridan
Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 10:43 am

Co-op Academy Priesthorpe principal Martin Blacoe said the school was left “bitterly disappointed” by the 'requires improvement' Ofsted report released last week.

The report said the school required improvement in all but 'personal development'.

'Pupils do not achieve as well as they should in some subjects' and 'teachers’ expectations of what pupils can achieve are not high enough across the curriculum', the report outlined.

Priesthorpe School

Mr Blacoe said elements of the inspection report - which included 'younger pupils, at times, feel intimidated by older pupils' - "leave us reading about a school we quite simply do not recognise".

In a letter sent out to parents, Mr Blacoe said Ofsted carried out a report on March 3 and 4 at the school.

He alleges at "the end of Day 2, the Lead Inspector and his team of three inspectors, through careful analysis and moderation of a thorough evidence base, judged Priesthorpe to be 'Good' in all five aspects of the inspection framework".

Mr Blacoe wrote: "Clearly, all present were delighted by the inspectors’ findings and that the strengths and areas for development highlighted carefully matched those within our own Academy Self Evaluation Form.

"The Inspectors recognised the journey we are on, our achievements to date, and the values and behaviours which have underpinned these improvements.

"An inspection report is normally released within two to three weeks of the date of an inspection. Having heard nothing for five weeks, I contacted Ofsted for an update. In response, I received a letter on 1 May which said that, following 'enhanced quality assurance', gradings provided at the end of our inspection had been changed. In four of the five areas of the framework, our grades had been reduced from Good to Requires Improvement.

"As a consequence, our Overall Effectiveness grade had changed from Good to Requires Improvement.

"It goes without saying that receiving this news was bitterly disappointing."

The principal said the academy trust had now submitted a complaint to Ofsted.

He continued: "The Co-op Academies Trust stands shoulder to shoulder with us as an Academy, in the resolute belief that Ofsted have misjudged Priesthorpe.

"The Trust has an unswerving belief that the quality of provision for our students is ‘Good’.

"The Trust’s CEO, Chris Tomlinson, has asked that I share the following with you: 'It goes without saying that we have an absolute belief that Priesthorpe is a Good school and, like the Principal, Senior Leaders and governors, we are hugely disappointed with the final inspection outcome and how it has materialised. It is vital that we do not let this impact the hard work that goes on every day in the Academy and that, with staff, governors, students and parents, we will work tirelessly to prove that this is a Good school which will carry on improving.”

Mr Blacoe then set out a number of responses allegedly given verbally at the final feedback session at the end of day two of the inspection, attended by the Vice Principal, the Trust CEO, the Trust West Yorkshire Chief Education Officer and the principal.

He said that by comparing them to the official report: "Only then will you be able to appreciate fully our bewilderment and sense of injustice."

Oftsed was approached by the YEP following the accusations.

A spokesperson for Ofsted said: "We judged this school to require improvement for the reasons that are set out in our inspection report. We do not discuss individual complaints, but we do take them seriously and deal with them in line with our published procedures.”

Co-op Academy Priesthorpe was approached by the YEP but did not respond.

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