Grammar school rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted over ‘hostile environment’ of sexism

Parts of Colchester Royal Grammar School have become a ‘hostile environment’ for pupils, the report finds

Leonie Chao-Fong
Thursday 08 July 2021 10:08
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<p>The school last received a full Ofsted inspection in 2007 when it was rated  “outstanding”</p>

The school last received a full Ofsted inspection in 2007 when it was rated  “outstanding”

A leading grammar school has been rated “inadequate” by Ofsted after inspectors found that pupils were “subject to sexist or racist comments” leaving “a significant number” to feel unsafe.

An inspection of Colchester Royal Grammar school (CRGS) found parts of the school have become a “hostile environment” as leaders have not ensured that boys understand “how to interact appropriately” with girls.

The Essex boys’ selective grammar school admits girls as students in its sixth form. Last year, 39 of its pupils were offered places at Oxbridge colleges and the school was ranked the best grammar school in England for getting pupils into Oxford and Cambridge, according to the Telegraph.

Prior to the unannounced inspection in May, it last received a full Ofsted inspection in 2007 when it was rated  “outstanding”.

The report says: “A significant number of pupils feel uncomfortable or unsafe in school and report being the subject of insulting and damaging comments regarding their gender, appearance, race or sexual orientation.

“Pupils are too often reluctant to pass their concerns on to staff. Systems for dealing with safeguarding matters do not work properly. Consequently, leaders are largely unaware of the difficulties some pupils face.”

It adds that school leaders have “failed to recognise or address a pervading culture in the school which does not promote equality and respect.”

It continues: “Leaders have not ensured that boys understand how to interact appropriately with girls. Consequently, some boys are rude about girls, judge them by their appearance and make inappropriate remarks. Parts of the school have become a hostile environment for some pupils.”

“While many pupils enjoy being at the school, many also feel people are treated badly because of their protected characteristics, such as their gender, race or sexual orientation. Discriminatory remarks are too common among some pupils. Leaders do not do enough to prevent or combat this.”

John Russell, headmaster at the school, said the report was “very difficult to read” and it was a “sad day” for the school.

He said: “We have never shied away from the fact that we believe that there is always more that we can, and want, to do for our students. We continually strive to improve every aspect of life at CRGS, and we have worked hard to adopt best practice in creating an environment where our students can flourish.”

Mr Russell added: “While we feel that the strengths of the school are not fully reflected in the report, the Ofsted Framework is the measure against which all schools will be judged - and we listen to what the inspection team found, and continue to act upon that.

“Our focus has to be on driving forward improvements and building on our many strengths and successes. Key to this will be continuing to enhance our culture where our students show greater respect for themselves and for others, and eliminating the use of derogatory and discriminatory language.

“To support this we will further develop effective reporting systems, particularly around how students raise any concerns that they may have.”

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