Hundreds of schools have been alerted to possible legal action by Ofsted after an obscure policy about unauthorised use of its logo to advertise a “good” rating surfaced.
Last week, Schools Week’s sister paper FE Week revealed how an unnamed training provider had been threatened with court action by the education watchdog for using a modified version of an Ofsted “good” logo.
The provider was told it was breaking Crown copyright law and that Ofsted only allowed institutions rated as “outstanding” to display such a logo.
But an investigation by Schools Week has uncovered hundreds of schools falling foul of the same rules – leaving them open to potential action.“Good” logos usually are published on websites, but some schools use them on outdoor banners and in prospectuses.
Academies from nine of the ten largest trusts are among those using “bogus logos”, although many said they were unaware of the “unknown” policy, which Ofsted insists has been in place since 2000.
A spokesperson for REAch2, which runs 56 schools, said it was a “real shame” that Ofsted was choosing to “focus its resources on pursuing schools and colleges who want to celebrate a ‘good’ inspection result with their local communities”.
The Academies Enterprise Trust – with 66 schools – also said it was unaware of the policy. A spokesperson said it has received no communication from Ofsted about the use of “bogus logos”, but has now told its schools to remove any that have been published.
Ormiston Academies Trust said it was “surprised” to learn about the policy. Schools were “rightly proud of receiving good ratings from Ofsted and it is important they are able to communicate this with parents”.
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “Every day you go past schools with signs and logos saying they are graded as good. These letters [from Ofsted] are a monumental waste of time and resources.”
In one letter recently received by an unnamed FE training provider, which had used a version of the logo on its website, the education watchdog said it would begin legal action if the logo was not removed from its materials within 14 days.
Unauthorised use of our logo may give rise to a civil action against you
The letter read: “The Ofsted logo is covered by Crown copyright. In addition, the Ofsted name is a registered trademark . . . therefore, the logo cannot be used without Ofsted’s express permission.
“Unauthorised use of our logo may give rise to a civil action against you. To avoid this, please remove the Ofsted logo from your website and any other offending materials with immediate effect.”
The education watchdog said it was clamping down on logo misuse and promised to take action against schools, colleges and other training providers found to be inappropriately using its logo. A spokesperson said the inspectorate estimated there had been more than 500 cases in the past four years.
“We have clear guidelines published on our website governing its [the logo’s] use which are applied consistently across all remits. We believe it is right that permission to use the logo should be limited to those who have achieved the highest Ofsted grade of outstanding.
“When we find the Ofsted logo has been used inappropriately we approach the provider and request that they remove it.”
However, Schools Week understands that Ofsted could revisit the policy rules.
A spokesperson said: “The policy is very much as it was last week and there is no formal review but we do look at policies across the board on a regular basis.”