Schools

Rye College: Ofsted inspects school at centre of gender row

Inspectors sent in to East Sussex school rated 'good' earlier this year

Inspectors sent in to East Sussex school rated 'good' earlier this year

Ofsted

Inspectors have been sent into the school at the centre of a gender row following complaints including from a government minister.

Rye College in East Sussex made national headlines last week after a recording went viral of a teacher branding a pupil “despicable” during an argument over identity.

It was reported the dispute erupted after the child rejected a classmate’s request to be identified as a cat. But this is not clear from the recording, and the college has insisted none of its pupils “identify as a cat or any other animal”.

The incident prompted equalities minister Kemi Badenoch to demand a snap inspection of the school, leading to accusations of political “grandstanding”.

This week Ofsted returned to the school which it rated as ‘good’ earlier this year.

A spokesperson said they had “considered the letter from the minister as a complaint, alongside others, and followed up with the school and other relevant agencies”.

“Following these discussions, we are inspecting Rye College. Ofsted is an inspectorate – we do not investigate specific incidents.”

The government had already sent DfE south-east regional director Dame Kate Dethridge into the college following the news reports earlier this month.

Trust ‘remains committed’ to inclusive education

A spokesperson for the Aquinas Church of England Trust, which runs Rye College, said it had shared a “comprehensive update on the events which took place before, during and after the recording”.

“This meeting was a positive step, and we will continue working closely with them to ensure any appropriate action is taken. Ofsted has now visited the school and we of course, as always, fully supported and engaged with the process.”

They added that they “remain committed to offering our pupils an inclusive education in line with best practice”.

“We will continue to support our teachers in their endeavours to ensure that pupils’ views are listened to, and encourage them to ask questions and engage in discussion.”

The school’s latest Ofsted report, its first under the sponsorship of Aquinas, described a “happy, friendly atmosphere throughout”, adding that “pupils feel safe”.

“Relationships are strong. Leaders have high expectations of pupils’ learning and conduct.”

The school was previously rated ‘inadequate’ in 2018 while it was part of the Rye Academy Trust. It joined Aquinas later that year.

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  1. Ofsted reinspecting a school that it had already judged as good only a few weeks ago, is an admission that the inspection framework is completely flawed. Each inspection is a mixture of pre-judgements from the HMI and a series of sliding doors.