School will take Ofsted to High Court after injunction fails

All Saints Academy Dunstable granted permission for judicial review of 'inadequate' graded report

All Saints Academy Dunstable granted permission for judicial review of 'inadequate' graded report

7 Jul 2023, 13:30

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A school that failed to block publication of an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted report says it has been granted permission for a judicial review of the grading, after raising “significant flaws”.

All Saints Academy Dunstable, in Bedfordshire, attempted to prevent publication of its recent report while it pursued legal action.

But an interim injunction bid was dismissed by the same judge that granted permission for the judicial review on June 22 at London Administrative Court, the school said.

The findings of the damning report – which saw the school rated ‘inadequate’ overall after being given the lowest grade for leadership and management and behaviour and attitudes – were subsequently published today.

Schools Week revealed earlier this week that Thomas Telford School, which has also applied for judicial review against an Ofsted inspection’s findings, also lost a bid to keep the report secret.

In a letter to parents and carers, All Saints executive principal Liz Furber said the school was “of the view that there are significant flaws in respect to the process undertaken during Ofsted’s inspection”.

Grade changed after additional Ofsted visit

The report shows that an initial inspection took place over two days in November last year, with an additional visit to gather “further evidence” taking place in January.

It is understood the school did not complain to Ofsted before the additional visit took place. A letter to parents states the school was told in November that it would be judged as ‘requires improvement’.

But the school claimed the original judgment communicated with leaders by inspectors deemed every aspect of it ‘good’, except behaviour and attitudes.

“We consider that Ofsted inspectors did not gain the additional evidence they needed to complete this inspection and this led them to provide an unfair final inspection report,” Furber said.

A formal complaint lodged to the watchdog by the school after the additional inspection is understood to be at the internal review stage.

In the finalised report, inspectors said “too many pupils” did not feel safe at the school, while a “significant” number were unhappy.

‘Aggressive’ language toward staff ‘common’

“Many” parents and staff members were said to have “concerns” about provision, while a “large proportion” of vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils had low attendance.

Behaviour was “variable”, with pupils experiencing “frequent” disruption to learning. 

Inspectors also noted that “aggressive and abusive language towards peers and staff is common” and bullying was present in the school.

“Pupils do not feel there is an adult in school they can talk to about concerns. They comment that some of this is down to the constant changes in staff,” inspectors said.

It is understood 22 judicial reviews have been taken against Ofsted since 2007, although few made it to court before action was withdrawn or settled. 

The outcome of Thomas Telford’s application for judicial review is not yet known.

The Shropshire school is seeking legal action over a report in which it was downgraded from ‘outstanding’ to ‘good’ over misrecording suspensions.

Both All Saints Academy Dunstable and Ofsted were contacted for comment.

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  1. VWalker

    Schools definately need an independent body to assess them because parents and kids need accountability, but a 2 day routine inspection really can’t gauge how a school runs. Furthermore, when parents beg Ofsted to get involved because kids are being forced to be
    Offrolled ,can’t access school because of unmet needs , self harm, student deaths , poor bereavement support and poor support for mental health and a persistence absence rate of 51.6% and the school is part of a Trust that does not value either a children’s or parent voice and never publishes results of its annual Trust wide survey to parents and knows there are safeguarding issues, NOTHING happens. Isn’t is about time the system and those involved who make decisions and can make
    A difference actually shows parents and kids that behaviours and practices that are toxic and even unlawful and detrimental are taken seriously and accountability prevails.

  2. David

    And I know an absolutely terrible school where behaviour is so bad I could not teach and now refuse supply work there [for safety reasons – I’m a refired former headteacher] that has recently been graded “good” in all aspects.
    It is shocking! It has one great department [SEND] that overrode all the utter inadequacies of leadership!