NEARLY 600 parents have signed a petition criticising Ofsted for what they say is a “wrong” and “damaging” report.

Hundreds of parents turned out to a special meeting after Ferndown Upper School’s devastating report last month, which said it was “inadequate”.

Inspectors said the 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.

Now his complaint has been bolstered by the overwhelming support of students’ families, who say the assessment was flawed in several ways.

They say Ofsted did not even realise it was an upper school and initially assessed the data – a major part of the overall assessment process – wrongly. Parents have also been writing to Ofsted’s regional director and four aspects of the school’s complaint have already been upheld.

Ofsted has acknowledged that governors had not been informed of judgements properly, that the lead inspector had thought the school was a secondary, that sixth form students had been asked inappropriate questions and that more consideration should have been given to the school’s own surveys.

The Parent Action Focus Group, in the school newsletter, said: “Following on from the Ofsted report back in March, which did not reflect the school's achievements, we created an online petition to channel some of the frustration felt by students, parents and teachers alike.”

The group wants to know why national attendance data for Years 9, 10 and 11 has been ignored, and why average points scores for GCSEs were given so little weight when judging achievement.

They say the inspectors’ notes don’t show enough student work was inspected and why schools with similar data have received different judgements.

A spokesman said: “The outcome we all want is a change of the grading before more damage is done to the school and its community. There is overwhelming support for this from the whole community – parents, students, educational professionals and our MP.”