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Questions raised about Ofsted inspections after dramatic decline in rating for Kersey Primary School

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Kersey Primary School had been given an "Outstanding" rating in every category in its previous Ofsted inspection. (7861820)
Kersey Primary School had been given an "Outstanding" rating in every category in its previous Ofsted inspection. (7861820)

Fresh questions have been raised over Ofsted inspections of outstanding schools after two establishments with the top rating have seen dramatic falls in the last month – more than six years after last being visited.

Earlier this month, Ofsted published its results for Kersey Church of England Primary School, which dropped from the top rating to requiring improvement, following a seven-year gap in visits.

It comes less than a month after Great Whelnetham Church of England Primary School was given an inadequate rating by the education watchdog – seven-and-a-half years after its last interim assessment and 12 years since its full inspection, when it was rated as outstanding.

Data published in May revealed that nearly half of Suffolk’s outstanding schools had not been visited in the last six years, prompting questions over its policy.

Gordon Jones, education cabinet member at Suffolk County Council, said: “I am disappointed that Ofsted inspections have recently judged that the quality of education at two primary schools in Suffolk is no longer outstanding.

“While outstanding schools are exempt from routine inspections, they may be inspected as a result of Ofsted’s assessment of risk.

“I have officially raised my concerns about Ofsted’s policy for reinspecting outstanding schools via the regional schools commissioner, who I will be meeting with again next week.”

A spokesman for Ofsted said that its hands were tied by the legislation issued by Parliament which gave outstanding schools a greater degree of exemption.

“Our chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, has been very clear that Ofsted would like the exemption to be removed so that we can routinely inspect outstanding schools,” the spokesman said.

“We want to be sure that people can have confidence in our grades, but there are now almost 300 schools that have gone a decade or more without inspection.”

Kersey Primary School declined the opportunity to comment when approached.