Norfolk

Education law expert to review Norfolk schools inquiry

Thetford Academy
Image caption Schools were not warned of inspections, says an Ofsted investigation

An education law expert has been appointed to review an investigation into alleged inspection irregularities at three Norfolk schools.

The review ordered by Ofsted follows the emergence of emails that were not available to the original inquiry.

Julian Gizzi, a senior partner at law firm DAC Beachcroft, will carry out an independent review, said Ofsted.

The inquiry in September found no evidence the academy schools had been improperly warned about inspections.

The schools concerned are Thetford Academy, Great Yarmouth Primary Academy and Ormiston Victory Academy in Norwich.

Mr Gizzi, a partner at Beachcroft since 1986, advises a wide range of public bodies and institutions, mainly in the education, health and local government sectors. He also advises various professional bodies.

Image copyright DAC Beachcroft
Image caption Julian Gizzi is a a senior partner at law firm DAC Beachcroft

He was the only practising lawyer to be appointed to the Dearing Committee on higher education and was general editor of the Education Law Manual.

An Ofsted spokesman said: "Julian Gizzi... will carry out an independent review of the original enquiry, which was led by Sir Robin Bosher and published on 23 September. He will examine all of the evidence considered as part of that enquiry, report on Sir Robin's conclusions and whether they still stand, in light of new information that emerged after his enquiry had concluded.

"Mr Gizzi's review is now underway and is expected to report before Christmas."

The original report into the claims said Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Inspiration Trust, which at the time oversaw all three academies, had mistakenly been copied into an email containing an inspection schedule.

Image caption The original inquiry found nothing to "cast doubt" on Dame Rachel de Souza's claim that she did not pass on the information about inspections to the schools

The report said the inspection date was changed and they found nothing to "cast doubt" on Dame Rachel's claim that she did not pass on the information.

The inquiry followed reports in the Observer newspaper that the schools had known in advance about impending Ofsted inspections, giving them an unfair advantage.

Ofsted says a number of new emails that were not available to Sir Robin at the time of his original investigation have emerged.

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