Mother told to keep her autistic son at home during inspection

A secondary school in Wiltshire that allegedly asked the mother of an autistic pupil to keep her son at home during an Ofsted inspection could face another visit from the education watchdog.

Matravers School has been forced to defend its actions after a staff member is heard on a voicemail message allegedly telling the mother that her son could take an “authorised” absence during the inspection on February 5 and 6.

In a recording of the message, obtained by the BBC, the staff member appears to raise concerns about how the boy might cope with “strangers asking questions” about his work and that the school “may not have the staff to deal with him”. There have also been allegations that lessons were swapped to avoid disruption.

Ofsted said it would not comment on individual complaints, but that it would re-visit schools where it felt key evidence had been withheld.

A spokesperson said: “If inspectors become aware that evidence has not been available or withheld during an inspection, then we would consider whether, had that evidence been available, it would have had an impact on the inspection outcome.

“If so, we could declare the inspection incomplete and return to the school to collect more evidence.

“Deliberately withholding evidence from inspectors would be regarded as a very serious matter.”

The school has defended its practice of informing parents of “vulnerable” students about Ofsted inspections.

In a statement sent to local news website, White Horse News, it said: “During any Ofsted inspection there are changes to routines within schools.

“We have been accused of ‘hiding’ students away during the inspection. Far from it, we took inspectors to visit our hair and beauty and motor mechanics provision, as well as our link alternative provision and learning support area, because we are deeply proud of all these aspects of our school.

“Over 20 per cent (200-plus students) of our cohort has a special educational need, which is above the national average. Three of our most vulnerable students have extremely complex needs. We were concerned that they may have struggled with ‘unfamiliar adults’ (ie, Ofsted inspectors) around the school site, or possibly appearing in their lessons and asking them about their work.

“With this in mind we contacted their parents and asked for help in supporting their child by preparing them for this potentially upsetting change to their familiar school routine. We were able to do this because we know our students very well.”