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Change made to section of County Upper School's 'inadequate' Ofsted report after police intervention

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A change made to an Ofsted report which rated a top performing Bury St Edmunds secondary school inadequate ‘undermines a crucial plank’ of the inspection, according to the school’s trust.

County Upper, in Beeton’s Way, was judged by Ofsted to require ‘significant improvement’ following an inspection in January which found that ‘leaders failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure pupils’ safety’.

The report noted that ‘police raised concerns with inspectors about pupils’ safety, including the anti-social behaviour of those who have been on the school’s roll but educated on a part-time basis or at home by school staff’.

County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mark Bullimore Photography.
County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mark Bullimore Photography.

However, following an intervention from Suffolk Police, this section of the report has been amended to state ‘inspectors were made aware that the local police have forwarded third-party concerns about pupils’ safety ...’.

The rest of the report remains the same and the school is still rated 'inadequate'.

In a letter to the school’s head Vicky Neale, Suffolk Police Inspector Matt Dee said they contacted Ofsted to clarify the chronology of where its information came from.

“It was established that in November 2017 there was a professionals meeting where individuals were discussed, during that meeting concerns around the school were raised, these were voiced by a third party,” he said.

“This information was submitted and ultimately passed to the local authority in November 2017.”

In January, Ofsted discussed it with the West Area Intelligence Manager, who was unable to add anything as ‘this was not a direct police observation and had been a third party report’.

Steve Boor
Steve Boor

In a letter to parents, Steve Boor, chair of the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust board, said the change had a ‘wider impact on the inspection’ as the ‘supposed police concerns were central to the Ofsted inpsection team’s triangulation of evidence on safeguarding’.

“Given how this serious error undermines a crucial plank of the safeguarding aspect of the inspection, we continue to engage with Ofsted in an attempt to get them to acknowledge the difficulty this creates for the integrity of their findings on safeguarding,” he said.

Mr Boor said they have ‘thoroughly reviewed safeguarding’ and provided further training for governors and staff.

In a statement to the Bury Free Press, he added: "We are grateful to Ofsted for correcting this serious error in their report acknowledging that Suffolk Police did not, in fact, express any concern to Ofsted inspectors about pupil safety or safeguarding at County Upper as erroneously stated in their report they published in March.

"Similarly, no concerns have been raised by the external reviews of safety and safeguarding of pupils commissioned by the trust.

"However, some additional measures have already been introduced to enhance this further and provide additional reassurance to parents."

An Ofsted spokesman said the 'amendment does not change our findings about safeguarding' at County Upper.

"Our inspectors found that safeguarding arrangements were not effective," he said.

"When this happens, inspectors will return to inspect the school within a short period of time to check that pupils are safe."