Press release

Review concludes no advance warning given to Norfolk academies

Ofsted has today published the full independent review into alleged inspection irregularities at three academy schools in Norfolk.

placeholder

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, appointed a senior legal professional Julian Gizzi to undertake a detailed review of the original investigation into claims first made in a Sunday newspaper in August 2014.

Mr Gizzi, a partner at international law firm DAC Beachcroft, was asked to examine all the evidence considered as part of the investigation by Ofsted’s Director of Quality and Training, Sir Robin Bosher, and the conclusions reached in his report published on 23 September 2014. He was also asked to consider further material relevant to the allegations which came to light after Sir Robin had completed his review.

Mr Gizzi has concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, no-one associated with any of the three schools in question, Ormiston Victory Academy, Great Yarmouth Primary Academy and Thetford Academy, received more than the requisite half a day’s notice of the date of their inspection, contrary to claims published in the Observer newspaper.

He said that Sir Robin Bosher had carried out his original investigation “with an open mind, that he acted with fairness and integrity and that his overall approach was methodical and diligent.” His conclusion was that Sir Robin’s investigation “was, overall, appropriate” and the conclusions he reached “were reasonable”.

The documents provided to the independent reviewer also supported Sir Robin’s conclusion that the academies at the centre of the allegations expended considerable time and energy preparing for impending Ofsted inspections.

Today’s 56-page report has been published in full and without redaction on the Ofsted website.

Commenting on the conclusions of the independent review, Sir Michael Wilshaw said:

I would like to thank Julian Gizzi for carrying out this comprehensive review.

The claims that were made about certain Norfolk schools being given advance notice of Ofsted inspection dates were very serious and damaging. I am, therefore, pleased that the overall findings in our original enquiry are supported by the conclusions reached by the independent and impartial review. I am also pleased that Mr Gizzi has recognised that Sir Robin’s original investigation was professional, substantial and rigorous.

Sir Michael added:

What today’s review does lay bare is the extent to which some Norfolk schools were on such a high degree of ‘Ofsted readiness’ for weeks and even months before the inspection actually took place.

It’s very important that schools maintain a sense of proportion when preparing for an Ofsted inspection. In my experience, the best schools devote their energies to getting things right for their pupils, not for inspectors. Leaders should be focusing on making sure there is good teaching, robust assessment and a positive and respectful learning culture at their school. If they are attending well to these things then an Ofsted inspection will usually take care of itself.

Notes to editors

  1. The independent review is on GOV.UK.
  2. Sir Robin Bosher’s report, published on 23 September 2014, is also online.
  3. The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages in England. It regulates and inspects childcare and children’s social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.
  4. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 0300 130 415 or via Ofsted’s enquiry line 0300 123 1231, between 8.30am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057 359.
Published 27 January 2015