Ofsted ‘lies’ spark governor’s walk-out

Mexborough School has been lashed by Ofsted.
Mexborough School has been lashed by Ofsted.

Mexborough School’s chair of governors, Coun Sue Phillips, walked out this week... on the eve of a devastating Ofsted report that could propel the school back into Special Measures”.

Ofsted’s latest inspection report was expected to be published as the Times was being printed yesterday.

But furious Coun Phillips accused the body of a “stitch-up”, in what she said was a damning condemnation of the secondary school.

The councillor – a governor for 15 years – said the report was so bad, it was “completely off the scale”. She resigned her post in disgust on Friday, and immediately lodged a complaint about the report, with the education inspectors.

Coun Phillips told the Times: “I’ve resigned because it’s the best way for me to find out what’s happened here, as what they are saying is totally untrue.

“The report has slated the school, and slated the governors particularly badly, among others... but they are really blaming volunteers.

“I have evidence the school was doing well. I have the minutes from school improvement meetings, and they are totally different from the findings of Ofsted. I have got a great weight of evidence.

“So I want to see how they have reached that judgement and I want to see the evidence they have based it on.

“My priority is for the the pupils in this school and we have to do the best for those kids. I believe it’s a stitch-up and I think Ofsted have come in with a hidden agenda here.”

A source close to the school backed Coun Phillips, saying: “I believe there’s been a stitch-up. Ofsted never looked at the sixth form, or any of the top sets. I believe they have intentionally done the school down.

“I don’t think you can blame the headteacher, Frau Bühler-Willey... she hasn’t been there long enough to be responsible.

“It just doesn’t add up. The school’s exam results place it in the top 10 per cent of improved schools.

“Now the school is back at risk of going into Special Measures and it makes you wonder why, when a school is improving.”

Fellow governor Sean Gibbons, added his support to those declaring Ofsted had a “hidden agenda”.

He said: “The approach they took was ruthless. The school could end up in Special Measures, and the outcome that it gave, in my opinion, is not justified.

“We have been working very closely for the past five years with a former Ofsted inspector. We’ve been following the recommendations and compared to where we were, we’ve made good improvement.

“The Ofsted team have come in for just two days. I know whose opinion I will be following and it’s that of a man I’ve worked with for five years, not people who’ve been in for two days.

“I don’t believe the blame can be levelled at Frau Bühler-Willey. She’s been in the job for four or five months and I now believe she was the best choice for the school.

Governor Anne Story, who was rumoured to have also quit, said she was “considering her position” and planned to wait for the report to be published before making a decision.

She said: “I’ve not done it yet formally and I’m taking a couple of days to reconsider”.

A spokesman for Ofsted would only say: “Ofsted does not comment on individual cases. Inspectors evaluate the quality of education and care provided at a school. Those findings are subsequently published in the inspection report”.

The school was on half-term holiday this week and no-one was available for comment.

* See next week’s Times for the full report and more reaction