MP: Ofsted sent ‘rogue hit squad’ to my child’s school

Philip Hollobone claimed the team sent to inspect Bishop Stopford School had a 'prearranged agenda'

Philip Hollobone claimed the team sent to inspect Bishop Stopford School had a 'prearranged agenda'

12 Dec 2022, 5:00

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A Tory MP has launched a scathing attack on Ofsted, accusing a “rogue” inspection “hit squad” of engineering a downgrade of the school his child attends.

Philip Hollobone claimed the team sent to inspect Bishop Stopford School in his Kettering constituency in June 2022 had a “prearranged agenda”.

After raising his concerns in a parliamentary debate on Tuesday, the MP was offered a meeting with the watchdog’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman.

In the inspection report, published last month, the school was rated as ‘requires improvement’, an outcome its headteacher described as “extremely disappointing”.

The Church of England school, rated ‘outstanding’ in its last inspection in 2008, converted to a single-academy trust in 2011 and was not reinspected until the government removed the exemption for top-rated schools last year.

Hollobone said his claims were based on “evidence” from the school’s head, deputy head and pupils.

“Ofsted has sent in an educational inspection hit squad with a pre-arranged agenda to downgrade this faith-based school, whatever it found on its visit,” he said.

The MP claimed inspectors had “disparaged the school’s Christian ethos” in interviews with pupils.

He said a boy was asked if he thought ‘this is a white, middle-class school’, while a girl was asked if she felt uncomfortable walking upstairs when wearing a skirt.

According to Hollobone, who admitted one of his children attended Bishop Stopford, Ofsted refuted the claim, saying there was “no record in the evidence of the exact line of questioning”.

But he added: “I raise the matter not because of my child, but because I think a genuine injustice has been done with this inspection.”

School rated ‘requires improvement’ in several areas

Bishop Stopford received judgments of ‘good’ for its quality of education and sixth-form provision, but was judged ‘requires improvement’ in behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management.

Ofsted said the school did not record and share safeguarding information “effectively”, and pupils did “not always feel confident” reporting bullying and inappropriate language.

But Hollobone accused the inspectorate of “pursuing an agenda”.

“Unable to criticise the school’s educational achievements, inspectors have pursued an agenda against a top-performing school with a Christian ethos by engineering criticisms of the behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and leadership and management criteria,” he said.

He also claimed Ofsted had “leaked” its rating as two schools had heard of the downgrade before the report was published.

Bishop Stopford’s complaints to Ofsted were not upheld. The inspectorate would not be able to look into the claims further without “further evidence”, Hollobone said.

But responding in parliament, Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said given the “specific concerns” he would request the MP “get the opportunity to discuss them directly with His Majesty’s chief inspector”.

Ofsted said an invitation had been extended, but a spokesperson added: “The concerns raised about this inspection have been investigated thoroughly.”

Bishop Stopford said it was “grateful” to the MP for “seeking to engender debate which has the potential to significantly improve the system”.

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  1. Jane Green

    Ofsted never were, never have been and are still not fit for purpose. They often do come in with an agenda. They are political as well as being being a multi million pound business. Always follow the money!

  2. I’m a childminder and I had a terrible inspection a few years ago. From the moment I answered that phone call there was nothing I could have done right. She came into my house and picked everything apart. Rather than trying to build me up and help me improve she just wanted to pick and pick and pick.
    Really knocked my confidence and my trust in Ofsted and they have done nothing much to rectify that.

  3. Time that OFSTED was inspected itself. It is divisive, creates, a management lever that frequently overloads teachers: who hasn’t heard the phrase, ” We need to change xyz, because what if “OFSTED” comes?” to justify a misuse of resources and computer systems to record information that’s out of date about learning before the ink is dry. In fact OFSTED supports a competitive system that echoes old out of date American business practices of the 1980’s and a Singaporean testing regime in schools here that run on the regimented lines of a Victorian factory batch production system none of which are suited to the uk. Education is a collaborative process and we now have the IT means to bespoke learning and assessment tailored to the needs of individual students via collaborative team project based learning: but in more ways than one we are locked in a class bound system.

  4. Isn’t it funny how so many MPs ignore the problems of biassed Ofsted inspections until it affects their own children or local school? Too often poor Ofsted inspections are used to force schools to convert to become part of an academy trust. This makes me wonder how independent the inspectors really are!

  5. Tamara McGregor

    Exactly the same thing happened to my daughter’s school in Bristol. Ofsted should be disbanded. The staff are extremely stressed and it has forced the head to be signed off indefinitely – it’s unacceptable.

  6. C Bentley

    I am not in the least surprised by Mr Hollobone’s claim. As a HT I underwent 5 inspections and one of them was quite definitely an attempted hatchet job. The team were a disgrace to the profession. Thank Heaven, ‘Raise on Line’ was published on the morning of the 2nd day and completely undermined their ‘theories’. Our children’s behaviour was down graded to Good from Outstanding because one child didn’t thank an inspector who held a door open. This particular inspector had already gained the nickname ‘The Rottweiler’ and we had no doubt the child was an intimidated as the staff were. Another rookie inspector feedback to a teacher in front of his class despite him asking for privacy. When I approached the QA inspector who has been assigned with a list of concerns, he told me to the the Registered Inspector (part of the problem) as he had a train to catch. Unbelievable.
    On another occasion, our worst case of racial harassment occurred when an inspector interrogated one of our parents on the school drive in front of everyone. Talk about crass. Many of the wrong people become inspectors – a bit like councillors!