Lady Lumley’s defends court challenge following Ofsted ‘inadequate’ report

A Pickering school has defended its decision to challenge a damning Ofsted report in the Appeal Court.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 9:45 am
Updated Friday, 19th June 2020, 7:38 am
Cllr Greg White, County Councillor for Pickering, said he will do whatever he can to help Lady Lumley’s become an excellent school.
Cllr Greg White, County Councillor for Pickering, said he will do whatever he can to help Lady Lumley’s become an excellent school.

Rating Lady Lumley’s as ‘inadequate’, the education watchdog accused the school of having a culture in which homophobic and racist language is “endemic”.

Its report said a “large minority” of pupils do not feel safe in school or protected from bullying.

“They do not believe that there is an adult they could talk to if they were worried about anything.

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“They are fearful of, and are fed up with, the behaviour of a small group of pupils.

“Some pupils do not believe that the school site is secure. They feel threatened on school transport.

“They hear abusive language regularly, which is not routinely challenged by staff.”

The school said it had “deep misgivings” about the report – so deep, it took legal action against Ofsted.

Its challenge went to the Appeal Court in London but was not successful.

In a statement, the school said: “Whilst there are a number of positive aspects to the report, we are bitterly disappointed with the overall outcome.

“Ofsted have recognised that the school provides a good quality of education and our students achieve good examination results.

“Our most recent GCSE results were the best we have ever achieved.

“The report recognises the school is effective in meeting the needs of all students, including those with special educational needs.”

It added: “The report says homophobic and racist language is endemic in school and not challenged by staff.

“This condemns the students at Lady Lumley’s School to be classed as racist and homophobic and it condemns the staff to be classed as people who accept such behaviour.

“It also reflects on the whole community.

“This is the one of the main reasons we felt we had to challenge this report so strongly.”

It accused the inspectors of basing their conclusion about behaviour and attitudes on the views of a small number of pupils.

“Despite our deep misgivings about the inspection, we have responded to the criticisms made in the report,” it said.

It added: “We are deeply upset by this report and the process which produced it. Governors, staff, parents and carers know that Lady Lumley’s is a safe and effective school.

“We know our pupils are not endemically racist or homophobic and we know our staff would not tolerate such behaviour.”

Cllr Greg White, County Councillor for Pickering, said: “I was sad to hear that Lady Lumley’s School has been downgraded from ‘Good’ to ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted.

“I was also very disappointed to learn that the school had tried to fight the report by taking legal action.

“While I can understand the school’s governing body and head teacher wanting to question the inspectors’ findings in what was a very harsh report, I could not see any justification for spending public money to challenge Ofsted in the High Court. That money was provided to fund children’s education.

“As soon as I became aware of the very high cost, I called on North Yorkshire County Council’s senior officers to investigate how such expenditure had been authorised.

“As a consequence of the report the school will be required to become an academy.

“I will do whatever I can to help Lady Lumley’s become an excellent school.”

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