Union accuses inspectors of ‘academy ploy’

Revoe Community Primary School, Blackpool.
Revoe Community Primary School, Blackpool.
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A leading union representative today accused inspectors of failing schools in order for them to become academies.

The remarks come after Blackpool school Revoe Community Primary School was placed under special measures earlier this month following Ofsted inspectors finding it to be “inadequate” and “requiring improvement.”

Under Government rulings failing schools can be forced to become academies, taking them out of local authority control and see them overseen by sponsors.

John Girdley, from National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) in Lancashire, said he has seen a number of schools in his area be damned by inspectors before “academy brokers” move in on them.

He said: “As a general point we know that Ofsted is going through primary schools in the district and failing them, and Department for Education (DfE) brokers are turning up about academies.

“It’s what the DfE are peddling. We believe this is a deliberate ploy by Ofsted and the DfE to fail schools and try to academise and privatise them. I don’t know if Revoe fits into that but that would be my guess.”

But Ofsted has strenuously denied the claim, saying it works independently.

A spokesman said: “Ofsted does not have a preferred model for schools; we are independent and are not about furthering any political agenda. Our overall objective is to ensure that all children, regardless of the postcode they come from and regardless of whether they attend an academy, free school or maintained school, have access to a good quality education.”

The Ofsted report into Revoe Primary School, on Grasmere Road, Blackpool, noted that “teaching quality varied” across the school and that bad behaviour, name-calling and bullying happened too often.

But other unions have disputed the inspectors’ findings into “the wide variation” in teaching, questioning how all staff at the school could know pupils well when a number of new staff members have been brought in to replace staff suspended from the school.

Six school staff, including the headteacher Cath Woodall, are still suspended from their duties pending an investigation into safety of pupils.

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