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School spent £100k challenging Ofsted

A school in North Yorkshire, Lady Lumleys School in Pickering, spent £100,000 of tax payers funds to challenge an unfavourable Ofsted inspectors report. The written report had stated that racist language was “endemic” and went unchallenged by staff.

The current head teacher, Mr Richard Bramley, took Ofsted to court in an attempt to stifle the publication of the inspection report seemingly on the basis that it reflected poorly on the school. Questions are currently being raised as to why the costly legal battle was sanctioned by council officials.

The school, which has previously been listed as one of the highest performing secondaries in North Yorkshire, was granted an anonymity order in January 2020 to prevent publication of the report whilst an interim injunction was put in place. However that application was recently dismissed by the Court of Appeal and the report was subsequently published at the end of June.

As a result Lady Lumley’s school, which was founded in 1657, was downgraded to “inadequate” despite achieving some of the best exam results in the country. Furthermore the Ofsted report claimed homophobic and racist language was “endemic” in the school. The report stated that, “Pupils reported widespread use of homophobic and racist language. Some pupils do not report this because they do not expect staff or leaders to act.”

Further comment was added saying, “Some pupils have become hardened to such abusive language. Leaders should act to address the school culture in which such language is endemic and considered normal.” By contrast Ofsted Inspectors did not place the school in special measures due to the high standard of education it offered. However comment was made that, “a large minority of pupils” did not feel safe in school and bullying issues had not properly been addressed.

The Chair of the Governors said in a statement, “We know our pupils are not endemically racist or homophobic and we know our staff would not tolerate such behaviour. Our most recent GCSE results were the best we have ever achieved and place us in the top third of all schools nationally.” The letter stated they felt they had to challenge the report because it reflected badly on the whole school community.

MrGreg White, a North Yorkshire county councillor, called for an investigation into how the legal action was authorised. He commented that there was no justification for spending “over £100,000 of public money to challenge Ofsted in the High Court”.

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