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Confusion reigns at St Benedict’s Catholic School after Ofsted accuses Bury St Edmunds school of not promoting ‘British values’

PUBLISHED: 12:50 15 December 2014 | UPDATED: 18:24 16 December 2014

Hugh O'Neill, headteacher of St Benedict's School, Bury St Edmunds.

Hugh O'Neill, headteacher of St Benedict's School, Bury St Edmunds.

Contributed

Ofsted have piled on the confusion at St Benedict’s Catholic School after they made “disturbing” claims that it is failing to promote ‘British values’.

The Bury St Edmunds secondary school was included on a list of 11 schools accused of “not teaching respect” for multiple faiths and not promoting “awareness and tolerance”.

A controversial Ofsted report making the same accusations was repealed in October, and republished after all the references to “radicalisation” and “extremism” were removed.

Headteacher Hugh O’Neill said he was “shocked” when he found out, after the Catholic Education Service (CES) demanded an apology for the “unsubstantiated claims” from Ofsted.

He said: “This caps what has been an extraordinary experience of Ofsted over this past term. We were targeted for a no-notice inspection in the first week of term.

“The inspection report came out on October 3, and included reference to the school not preparing students adequately against the dangers of radicalisation and extremism.

“That section of the report caused quite a media storm, and we were pleased when it was almost immediately withdrawn by Ofsted, on the instruction of Sean Harford, then Regional Director for the East of England.

“A second inspection visit then took place, which resulted in a number of changes to the report, including the removal of all references to the school failing to alert students to those dangers.

“There is nothing in the current inspection report to suggest that it is regarded as a problem.”

The school was downgraded by the snap inspection from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’, with the lack of progress made by some groups of pupils criticised.

“I can only suppose that the inclusion of St Benedict’s on the list was the result of the first flawed inspection report,” Mr O’Neill continued.

“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 by CES, and have responded saying that they stand by the listing.

“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.

“The continuing accusation that this school is one of a handful identified with radicalisation and extremism concerns is hugely disturbing.

“I think people will want 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.”

An Ofsted spokesman said: “Our recent advice note to the Secretary of State summarised the findings of 35 school inspections carried out at no notice earlier this term. Final inspection reports for each of these schools are published on the Ofsted website.

“Inspectors found that a number of the schools could have been doing more to prepare pupils for life in Britain today. This definition covers a wider range of issues other than dealing effectively with extremism and radicalisation, and includes how a school’s curriculum and other activities raise the pupils’ awareness of different aspects of how our society works.

“Sir Michael Wilshaw is looking forward to meeting representatives from the Catholic Education Service next week as part of his commitment to meet education leaders from the different faith communities to discuss Ofsted’s inspection frameworks and guidance.”

9 comments

  • Surely ridiculous and even more archaic that we have a State Church and its bishops are appointed into the House of Lords.

    Report this comment

    Rolf

    Thursday, December 18, 2014

  • You should be called Vacuous cranial cavity with a comment like that.Unless you can prove that Catholics (like everyone else) do not pay tax .

    Report this comment

    Traoileach O'Neill

    Tuesday, December 16, 2014

  • More guffaw from an out of date ,self serving, jobs for the boys quango. A quango that gave outstanding verdicts on the Trojan horse schools is now attacking the top faith school in the country.

    Report this comment

    Traoileach O'Neill

    Tuesday, December 16, 2014

  • There is nothing wrong with Christian 'faith schools' - I went to a Roman Catholic primary school run by nuns - it gave me a fantastic start in life for which I am very very grateful - it's the Islamic schools we need to be aware of - I'm sure I'll get some kind of stupid self-righteous PC comment left for me. But just think for one moment - how many students from St Benedict's will end up causing problems compared to those from certain other faiths? People in this country are fed up of the PC rubbish that is forced on them.

    Report this comment

    KingArthur

    Monday, December 15, 2014

  • That's right blackeye - away with these atrocious high-performing, popular Faith Schools - make all children have the same experience - i.e. equally poor bog standard educashun. Secular ideology blinding you, perchance?

    Report this comment

    Spurgeonite

    Monday, December 15, 2014

  • Any report is subjective and based on a relatively small sample, rather than over an academic year. That Pebkau speaks highly of the school is a better guide than any Ofsted report.

    Report this comment

    DALINE

    Monday, December 15, 2014

  • What is ridiculous here is that St Benedicts is consistently one of the highest achieving schools in the country for exam results. I speak as a parent of 4, all of which are in the Catholic school stream and all of which I am confident will achieve as much as they can academically. In my experience I have found the school nothing but excellent and supportive towards the pupils at all time. This reports seems to be both wrong and misguided.

    Report this comment

    Pebkau

    Monday, December 15, 2014

  • Blackeye, the option is available for parents to chose whether or not to use them. If the school is considered "a good one" locally, people will want to use it, Provided "Faith schools" are not guilty of indoctrination I cannot see the problem if they fulfil their role.

    Report this comment

    DALINE

    Monday, December 15, 2014

  • Ridiculous and archaic that we still have faith schools, and as for the taxpayer paying for them ....

    Report this comment

    Blackeye

    Monday, December 15, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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