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Catholic school downgraded by Ofsted named one of the best in Britain

St Benedict's Catholic School was criticised by Ofsted inspectors last year

A Catholic school which was downgraded by Ofsted amid the controversial “British values” drive has been listed as one of the top 100 schools in the country.

St Benedict’s Catholic Secondary School in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, was ranked 56th best in England when School Performance League Tables were published last week.

It was also listed as the “top state comprehensive school” in England and Wales, and has the highest percentage of A-level passes in Suffolk and the second highest by just one per cent ­ of GCSE passes in the county.

It was among the top five comprehensive schools for attainment of A-level passes while 69 per cent of pupils obtained five or more GCSE passes compared to the national average of 53.4 per cent.

The school was the focus of controversy when Ofsted last year included it in a blacklist of schools failing to promote “British values” and downgraded it from “good” to “requires improvement” because younger pupils were unaware of the dangers of radicalisation and extremism.

The Catholic Education Service, an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, at the time demanded an apology from inspectors, complaining that Ofsted was making “unsubstantiated” judgements of the high-performing school on the basis of little evidence.

In a statement on its website following the publication of the school league tables, a school spokesman made a reference to the downgrading in the light of the academic successes of the school.

He said: “These results probably make us the best-performing ‘requires improvement’ school in Suffolk, if not in England.

“We hope that our parents, students and friends are reassured by these fantastic figures, and celebrate with us an outstanding set of results, now published and confirmed by the Department for Education.”

The league tables also revealed that another Christian school downgraded and placed in special measures by Ofsted after a snap “British values” inspection has achieved the best A-level results of any school in its area.

Grindon Hall Christian School topped the Sunderland league table with an average score of 225 points per A-level taken, the equivalent of a grade B, while 68 per cent of GCSE pupils achieved at least five A* -­ C grades.

Ofsted, however, in November found the school’s performance to be “inadequate” and gave it the worst possible grading, saying there was evidence of racism and homophobic language and bullying.

The school has formally complained to Ofsted amid the concerns of parents that children as young as 10 were grilled about lesbian sexual acts and transsexualism.

The school league tables were published just two days after a statement on British values, drafted by 22 Church leaders of all denominations, were delivered to the Prime Minister and the Queen.

An initiative of the ecumenical Maranatha Community, it affirmed that British values originated from Judaeo-Christian belief, thought and practice and have since defined the country’s national identity. It also expressed the fear that such values are imperilled by aggressive secularism.

“Our values embrace respect for the rule of law and equality of all before the law, together with freedom of speech, debate, conscience and religion,” it said.

“Our values embrace the utmost respect for human life and the wellbeing of others, compassion and care for the vulnerable, hospitality and mutual interdependence.”

The statement continued: “British history clearly authenticates the role and benefits of Christian teaching and practice. This is evidenced in the struggles to establish the rule of law and to defeat slavery and the slave trade; the establishment of the rights of conscience and the consistent opposition to intimidation, coercion, corruption, tyranny and oppression; the founding of numerous charitable institutions and the upholding of human dignity through the provision of education, health care and welfare.

The “British values” drive came as a response to the ‘Trojan horse’ scandal, by which some Muslims tried to introduce an Islamist ethos into a number of schools in Birmingham.

Its critics argue that the drive is being exploited to promote an aggressively secularist agenda. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said, however, that she would “vigorously defend” the drive because it “helped to open young people’s minds”.

In a speech to Politeia, a political think tank, she condemned schools where “homophobia goes unchecked”, adding: “I have no sympathy for those who say that British values don’t apply to them. Every school, regardless of faith, should be promoting British values.”