Ofsted is to carry out a monitoring inspection of a school which the government says should be turned into an academy after it was rated inadequate.
Moulsecoomb Primary School was given the lowest rating last May, and the academy order followed in June.
Since then, two possible sponsors have withdrawn and Brighton and Hove councillors have urged Ofsted to reinspect the school – backed by hundreds of people who have signed a petition asking the same.
Tomorrow and Wednesday, Ofsted inspectors will be at the school for a monitoring inspection, to keep tabs on the school while the academisation process is ongoing.
Staff, councillors and members of the Hands off Moulsecoomb Primary School Campaign hope that inspectors will see enough proof that the school is improving that they will go on to order a full re-inspection which could lead to the academy order being dropped.
However, councillors have been told by Ofsted that political pressure is more likely to stop a full re-inspection.
A brief post on the school’s Facebook page this afternoon said simply: “We have been notified that Ofsted are inspecting our school tomorrow and Wednesday this week. Parent questionnaires to follow. Thank you.”
When Brighton and Hove City Council asked Ofsted if it would carry out a re-inspection in December, Ofsted replied: “The decision to carry out an inspection at the request of the school is at the discretion of the regional director.
“Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector does not use the provision (stated in the request) to charge for the inspection event, because our current view is that charging may appear to have a bearing on the outcome of the inspection.
“We also tend not to recommend complying with such a request where it may appear to be in response to political pressure.”
The response was circulated to councillors after Cllr Kate Knight asked a question about re-inspection at last month’s children, young persons and skills committee.
Councillors were also told: “Written request have been made by both the Council and the Governors. Ofsted have thanked us for the letter and have said that they note the contents of the letter. They have not inspected the school.
“In conversations between council staff and Ofsted they have indicated that they are highly unlikely to inspect because of such a request.”
Councillor Hannah Clare, Green opposition spokesperson for schools, said: “Far from being inadequate, we know that Moulsecoomb Primary is in fact a well-loved school at the heart of its community, offering so much to pupils and the local area.
“While we remain critical of Ofsted, we recognise that improved Ofsted results have, in certain cases, stopped the process of forced academisation.
“We are hopeful the inspection will be a good sign – and Green Councillors will continue to stand with the community and demand that Moulsecoomb Primary remain part of the city’s family of schools.”
Last month, Ofsted told Brighton and Hove News: “The Secretary of State has a duty to make an academy order for all maintained schools judged to have serious weaknesses (‘requiring significant improvement’) and those that require special measures.
“Maintained schools that have been issued with an academy order will normally receive monitoring inspections after approximately nine months if they have not been rebrokered to new sponsors.”
Last month, a DfE spokesperson said: “Moulsecoomb Primary School was issued an academy order after being rated inadequate in April 2019. It is for Ofsted to decide when the next inspection takes place.
“The Department remains committed to confirming an academy sponsor that will support the school and help drive the rapid and sustained improvement that the school and its pupils need.”
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