A HEADMASTER has defended a school after it was rated 'Inadequate' by Ofsted, saying the report is 'unfair' and the government department's guidance on a safeguarding matter was 'vague'.

The report on The De Montfort School in Evesham that was published on Monday highlighted issues particularly around safeguarding when students went on work placements.

Mr Nicholls said Ofsted has penalised the school because when students were on work placements, the school had arranged for the providers to call if the students did not turn up, which they had signed forms agreeing to do.

But Ofsted says the school should have called the providers in the morning and the afternoon. The head says Ofsted’s Health and Safety Executive Guidance sent to all schools says, “regular contact”.

Mr Nicholls said: “Their interpretation of it is different to our interpretation of it. It needed to be clearer.”

Similarly, the school was told that children on medical provision who, due to medical issues split their learning between being at a medical facility and at home, should also be checked in the same way.

If a student does not turn up at the medical facility when arranged, Mr Nicholls said it was understood the medical facility would phone the students parents to see if they are still at home. Also, they have weekly calls to discuss the children’s progress.

He said: “In the medical guidance it does not say anywhere 'you should be ringing them every morning and afternoon'.”

Mr Nicholls said the report was also “harsh” when it came to attendance, saying they would not make allowances for certain reasons children were absent.

Mr Nicholls said due to a word limit, many positive points that inspectors discussed in their review, which he attended, were not included in the report.

These comments included: “Inspectors fully acknowledged how positive pupils and parents are about the curriculum model, they also noted the appropriateness and popularity of the courses and the broad range of alternatives available to pupils such as engineering.”

A statement from the school said: “We are extremely disappointed by the outcome of our recent Ofsted inspection, where we were judged as having 'serious weaknesses'.

"The judgement, which we have contested, focused on narrow, technical issues regarding four students, two on work experience or two at alternative provision.

"In both cases, national guidelines are very vague, and inspectors recognised that greater clarity is needed. Inspectors were also critical of our attendance figures, despite acknowledging our efforts to improve these.

“In fairness, the report did identify quite a number of strengths, noting that TDMS is a 'welcoming and inclusive' school, that 'leaders have high expectations of pupils’ behaviour', that 'bullying happens rarely… [and]… staff sort it out effectively'.

"Ofsted also acknowledge the 'positive relationships' and 'family feel' of our Sixth Form, that our 'curriculum offer is very broad', that safeguarding is 'rigorous' and that 'progress by the end of key stage 4 has improved significantly'. Furthermore, 'pupils’ personal development' was highlighted as 'a strength of the school' and graded as Good.

“We know that we still have a long way to travel to build the exceptional school that our community deserves.

"However, as Headteacher, I want to reassure parents that the improvements that the school has made and our drive towards excellence remain undimmed and undaunted, despite this disappointing judgement.

"Only a few weeks before the inspection, the government’s own performance tables confirmed the enormous strides that we have made in our GCSE results, registering an above average Progress 8 score of +0.30 for 2019 and clearly showing that we are one of the fastest improving schools in the county.

“We have already had several meetings with the Local Authority and our School Improvement Advisor in order to put together a detailed action plan to address the issues that Ofsted have raised. The action plan will be published on our website very shortly.”