CES challenges Ofsted after it accused Suffolk school of failing to teach British values

The Catholic Education Service (CES) has demanded an apology from Ofsted after it identified a Catholic secondary school in Suffolk as one of 11 which had failed to prepare pupils for “life in Britain”.

The CES spoke out after Ofsted downgraded St Benedict’s School from “good” to “requires improvement” following a series of no-notice inspections earlier this year.

Paul Barber, who is director of CES, said: “We are extremely concerned that Ofsted is publicly listing St Benedict’s as one of the 11 schools which ‘were not preparing pupils for life in Britain today’. These concerns cannot be found in the school’s Ofsted report. This is an unjust and unsubstantiated accusation and we hope Ofsted will clarify this matter and apologise to the school and parents for the confusion and upset caused.”

He added: “We welcome the role of Ofsted in ensuring accountability, transparency and inclusive education for all, regardless of belief. However it is essential that Ofsted provides support and clarification for their own staff on the matter of British values to prevent mistakes like this from recurring.”

Head teacher of St Benedict’s Hugh O’Neill said: “I can only suppose that the inclusion of St Benedict’s on the list was the result of the first ‘flawed’ inspection report. I could just about understand how that error might have occurred. What worries me is that Ofsted were informed of the mistake two weeks ago, and have failed to provide an adequate response. It is also very disturbing that, if they do maintain that the dangers of radicalisation and extremism still exist at St Benedict’s, they have done nothing to inform me, the governors or the Diocesan Education Office of the danger.

“We have had to accept that the no-notice inspection was not triggered by the ‘Trojan horse’ affair, but was a routine inspection- despite the fact that it took place less than 18 months after our previous inspection. The continuing accusation that this school is one of a handful identified with radicalisation and extremism concerns is hugely disturbing. I think parents and the local community deserve to know why St Benedict’s Catholic School remains at the centre of this Ofsted focus, when their Senior HMI, Asyia Khazmi, assured both me and the governors that she was satisfied that no such concern remained.”

Ofsted’s drive to ensure that schools are teaching ‘British values’ arose after schools in Birmingham were accused of teaching extreme Islamic values in the classroom.

Ofsted launched a series of ‘ligthening inspections’ at schools in England and Wales in September and October.