Pickering school 'tried to suppress' Ofsted racism findings

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Lady Lumley's School, PickeringImage source, Google
Image caption,
The secondary school has just under 1,000 pupils

A school has been criticised by a councillor for trying to "suppress" a report highlighting pupils' use of homophobic and racist language.

An Ofsted inspection at Lady Lumley's in Pickering, North Yorkshire, said such language was "endemic".

The school said the report did not give an accurate view and it had no choice but to take legal action.

County councillor Greg White said there was no justification for spending £100,000 on the case.

Ofsted inspectors visited the school, which has just under 1,000 pupils, in October 2019, and gave it an inadequate rating.

The report found the standard of education offered to pupils was good, however it said a "large minority of pupils" did not feel safe in school and bullying was not properly addressed.

There were concerns about a minority of disruptive pupils and safety at the school site, it added.

Inspectors said many pupils did not report homophobic and racist language because they did not think it would be tackled.

"Leaders should act to address the school culture in which such language is endemic and considered normal," the report said.

'Harsh report'

The school's head teacher, Richard Bramley, and chair of governors, Steven Croft, said they were "bitterly disappointed" with the report, which was based on the views of a small number of pupils.

In a letter to parents, they said they had no choice but to challenge it through Ofsted's complaints procedure and take legal action when that failed.

"We know our pupils are not endemically racist or homophobic and we know our staff would not tolerate such behaviour," they wrote.

Mr White, councillor for Pickering, has urged North Yorkshire County Council to investigate how the decision to take action was authorised.

He said: "I was very disappointed to learn that the school had tried to suppress the Ofsted report by taking very expensive legal action.

"Whilst I can understand the school's governing body and head teacher wanting to question the inspectors' findings, in what was a very harsh report, I could not see any justification for spending over £100,000 of public money to challenge Ofsted in the High Court."

An inadequate rating means the school will convert into an academy school and be taken over by an academy chain.

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