Storm in a tea-cup, or tea leaves that can predict an Ofsted visit?
A story has appeared in the Observer 19/10/14, that looks into the claims that three schools had prior warning of an Ofsted visit. The information was given in the form of whistleblowing. The schools in question were Ormison Victory Academy, Thetford Academy and Great Yarmouth Primary academy. Rachel DeSouza, ‘Superhead’ and now Chief Exec of Inspiration Trust, was previously Head at Ormiston, both Thetford and Great Yarmouth Primary Academy are schools run by Inspiration. Rachel DeSouza also during this time was working part-time as an Ofsted Inspector. Following the claims, Ofsted appointed Sir Robin Bosher to conduct an investigation. He was the Head who previously worked for Harris, and was one of the IEB members at Downhills who conducted a consultation about academy conversion, which despite massive opposition by all stakeholders, became a Harris academy. Ofsted investigating its own potential leaks was criticised by many who called for a independent scrutiny. The report uncovers emails that suggest that DeSouza had prior knowledge of the inspection.
The observer has also uncovered expenses spent by the trust which includes a teaset by designer Vera Wang at a cost of £420, and ‘Boss’ furniture costing over £10 ,000. For full story read: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/oct/18/emails-academies-ofsted-inspectors-rachel-de-souza
The Trust is run by 5 trustees, four of whom have only experience in the world of finance, insurance, outsourcing and making millions. Only 1, Rachel DeSouza, has any tangible link to the world of education. Two of these 5 have links to the Tory party: one a former MP and the other a party donor. In addition Agnew is a trustee of the Policy Exchange and a non-executive director of the DFE.
When we looked at their record for school improvement, we were underwhelmed. They have 7 schools, only two have had full inspections since being taken over by Inspiration. One of those was good as community school and remains good and the other has improved from satisfactory to good after a three year partnership.
One of their free schools, Sir Isaac Newton Free school has lost a principal after just one year. http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/education/founding_principal_of_sir_isaac_newton_sixth_form_free_school_quits_just_a_year_after_it_opened_1_3757094
Now that further emails have been revealed, surely this casts doubt on the Ofsted internal investigation, and we would suggest that questions have to be asked about the legitimacy of the latest Ofsted visits, all of which gave positive reviews.