A “blitzkrieg” of inspections which has left the majority of one city’s secondary schools in danger of being labelled inadequate has been condemned as “crass and crude” by local politicians.
Six of Nottingham’s 14 secondary schools are understood to have been placed in “special measures” – the education watchdog’s jargon for schools that are considered to be failing.
The condemnation is one of the harshest verdicts that Ofsted has made on an education authority’s schools.
Graham Allen, MP for Nottingham North, claimed the inspectorate had mounted a “blitzkrieg” on the schools which had left dedicated teachers demoralised.
Mr Allen accused Ofsted inspectors of being “disrespectful” and said the inspections had been “as crass and crude as a Friday night-fuelled alcohol binge”.
He said he had learnt about the inspections in an email sent a few weeks after he and the headteachers of the schools had visited Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, to discuss ways of improving their performance. The email said the inspections aimed to find why secondary school pupils in Nottingham had “consistently underperformed” for several years compared with those in the rest of the East Midlands and nationally.
Mr Allen said it had been known for years that the schools had underperformed – but one of them, Bulwell, had improved its exam performance this year. What was needed, he argued, was for dedicated teachers to be supported, not demonised.
Some of the schools deemed to be failing have become academies under the Government’s flagship programme. Eight of the city’s secondary schools are understood to have been inspected.
Mr Allen said of the inspection process: “It is demoralising for incredibly hard-working staff and pupils who deserve better. My schools take pupils well below the national average on entry but are expected to be measured and compete on a level playing field with schools in leafy suburbs nationwide.”
The schools concerned are understood to have been given details of the impending inspection reports with a view to them being published early in December. Those warned that their teaching standards may be branded “inadequate” include Djanogly City Academy, Bulwell Academy, Nottingham University Samworth Academy, Hadden Park High School, Big Wood School and Farnborough School.
A spokeswoman for Ofsted said: “Ofsted carried out a series of inspections of secondary schools in Nottingham as we had concerns about the poor attainment of pupils.
“We recognise the challenges the city faces. Our Unseen Children report, published in June, identifies clearly the need for greater support for disadvantaged children to ensure all children regardless of their background receive a good education.”
A spokesman for Nottingham City Council confirmed that Ofsted had inspected “a number of city secondary schools and academies” this month and added: “We are working with [them] to develop their improvement plans in response to the inspections and will work with Ofsted once the reports are completed and published.”