Schools watchdog Ofsted has been forced to apologise to a primary school for incorrectly claiming pupils were engaged in “frequent” bullying.
Teachers at Priory Primary School in Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent, were horrified when inspectors said in their latest report: “Behaviour and safety are inadequate because incidents of bullying are too frequent.”
Ofsted has written to the school apologising for the “distress and inconvenience” suffered by pupils and staff as a result of the mistake but the school still remains in special measures because of the damning criticism.
Headteacher Pam Keen, who took her post in January, said she was devastated by the bullying claims. “It is simply not true and that is why we are so upset and I decided to complain against the judgment to Ofsted. They said that bullying was too frequent and children lacked confidence. However, it turned out that the whole problem stemmed from when parents filled in their comment forms. Under the section where they were asked about bullying, 32 per cent ‘strongly agreed’ the school dealt with bullying well, 37 per cent ‘agreed’, seven per cent ‘disagreed’ and 24 per cent said they ‘didn’t know’. But the ‘disagree’ group and ‘don’t knows’ were because they didn’t know of any bullying in the school so they had no idea how we would deal with it if it were to happen. In the next question 98 per cent said their child was happy at the school and 100 per cent said their child felt safe – the reverse of what you would expect if a school was ridden with bullying. We went from getting an ‘outstanding’ for how we dealt with bullying in the school to inadequate, which is what put us into special measures. We hadn’t spoken to the children much about bullying as it wasn’t an issue…
“We have recently instigated a special anti-bullying squad of children who helped me draw up our new anti-bullying policy and made sure everyone knows who to go to if they have a problem. You can’t legislate for fall-outs in the playground but if a child was unkind that would be dealt with immediately. We recognise there are things that need to be improved, but I am proud of the respectful way our students treat each other… I am pleased Ofsted has apologised, particularly to the students, because their reputation was damaged by that phrase.”
Parents backed the school’s stance. Paul Wilford, 40, of Hanford, whose daughter Amy, six, is a pupil, said: “It is right for Ofsted to apologise for saying there was bullying. It’s ridiculous. We were given a feedback form but it was about how the school dealt with bullying. There wasn’t an option to say, ‘not applicable’ as we’ve not seen any bullying.”
Ofsted declined to comment. It placed the school in special measures in June after criticising teaching standards and pupil progress. The report also added “managers at all levels” had too little impact on improving the school.
Is anyone else thinking what I’m thinking? Did this occur after the government had announced a change in Ofsted grade and rate schools? If my memory is correct, this means that Ofsted are still incompetent and make ridiculous blunders like this one. I still think Ofsted should be disbanded if I’m honest. Why on earth do we want an organisation that makes stupid mistakes like this time and time again? I’d say it’s a pressure we can do without as teachers