A SECONDARY school has reacted angrily to a damning “inadequate” verdict after its Ofsted inspection, describing it as "deeply unjust".
Inspectors said Ferndown Upper School, which takes children from the Verwood area, suffered from inadequate teaching, inadequate pupil achievement and that the behaviour and safety of pupils, and its leadership and management “require improvement”.
But headteacher Alex Wills has made a formal complaint against the way they carried out their assessment, and says the school has “grave concerns” about the process.
He said: “The school was inspected for two days on January 9 and 10. The final report was published last Friday.
“The governors and staff of the school do not agree with the findings of the inspection and have grave concerns about the process used to gather evidence.
“These formed the basis of an extensive complaint submitted to Ofsted on January 23. Ofsted are considering this complaint but have not yet entered into any discussion with the school in an effort to resolve these issues.
“As the complaint is still pending we cannot comment further on the school report.”
But he added: “We are proud of the many achievements and successes of our students and have every confidence in the school, its parents and the local community we serve. Students feel safe and happy and are rightly proud of their school.”
Ofsted inspectors were crushing in their assessment of the school, despite many parents submitting glowing reports before the inspection, in Ofsted’s Parentview survey.
After their report went online parents also rushed to praise the school on social media websites, saying their children were thriving and happy there.
But inspectors said: “Achievement is inadequate because both past and current students have not made sufficient progress, especially in English.
“Teaching is inadequate because too often work is not set at the right level of difficulty for different abilities, especially the most and the least able.
“Progress for many groups of students, especially students who are eligible for the pupil premium, boys and those students who are disabled or who have special educational needs, is too slow.
“Leaders have not taken the actions needed to improve teaching and achievement, particularly in English, quickly enough.”
They added: “Teachers do not always get the best out of students because they do not provide enough challenge and do not capture their interest.
“Marking of students’ work varies too much in quality between subjects and teachers.
“Behaviour requires improvement because fixed-term exclusions and the proportion of students who are persistently absent are too high.
“The sixth form requires improvement because there is not enough good teaching and students do not make the progress they should.”
And they said: “Governors do not check that the leaders are doing the right things to bring about improvement.”
Inspectors did say the school was improving after adopting an action plan, and that: “The school promotes high quality spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Students feel safe.”
They also said there was some effective teaching in maths and science, and that targets were now being set better after a system was put in place to check pupils’ progress.
Read Mr Wills' letter to parents at http://fernup.dorset.sch.uk/news/ofsted-letter-to-all-parents-from-headteacher/.