Academies run by a superhead praised by the government for producing schools that “outperform the rest” of the state sector had secret advance notice of Ofsted inspection dates, the Observer can reveal.
Evidence uncovered by this newspaper suggests that three schools in Norfolk, all overseen by Dame Rachel de Souza, knew of impending visits by inspectors days, and sometimes weeks, before Ofsted arrived.
One school was even able to draft in teachers who had never previously taught there to perform in front of inspectors, according to whistleblowers. Another, keen to make good on the advantage, was said to be a “hive of activity” in the days directly leading up to the inspection.
By law, schools can only be given half a day’s notice of an inspection. Former education secretary Michael Gove has previously argued that schools should get no notice at all, to ensure that they do not evade proper scrutiny.
Can this really be true? That we can question the credibility of Ofsted? I’m confident there will be an investigation and that lessons will be learned.