Sinfin Community School a Derby City secondary school which followed Government orders and improved its exam results has been stunned to find it has been placed into special measures.
Sinfin Community School has seen an 11% rise in GCSE passes – the best results in its history. But the Office for Standards in Education has now officially classified the 896-pupil school as “failing”.
The ruling has angered head Steve Monks and he is considering the rare step of appealing against the inspectors’ report.
Ofsted decided the school was inadequate in all four areas inspected, including pupils’ achievement and behaviour, quality of teaching and leadership and management.
Mr Monks said an interim inspection report compiled just last October by Ofsted showed the school to be “satisfactory”. He said of the latest Ofsted verdict, officially out on Monday: “We were shocked by the inspection findings as they do not match the school’s own judgements or those of the city council who inspected the school only two weeks before.”
Parent Nikki Freeman, of Sinfin, who has a son in year nine and one who left there five years ago, said the Ofsted judgement was “insulting” and had “come out of the blue”. She said: “This is so demoralising for everyone after the school has improved so much over the past five years.
Mr Monks continued: “The inspectors failed to look at the bigger picture regarding the school, including its improved results and also the prior attainment of pupils before they come here and what they achieve – something the Government’s own league tables now promote. They didn’t take into account pupils’ improved attendance to 93.5%, close to the national average, and the 50% reduction in fixed-term and permanent exclusions.
“Teaching was one of the main issues raised by the inspectors. They inspected 34 lessons taught by 34 teachers and for only 13 minutes in each case, but our senior management team was present for 11 of these and saw only one session that could be judged “inadequate”.
“We are receiving many mixed messages and I am angry for everyone here at Sinfin, who do not deserve this judgment. The criticism is not valid and we are considering a formal challenge to the judgement.”
It is not the first time the school has been in special measures during Mr Monks’ headship but he managed to turn the school around in record time previously.
Two years ago, the school linked up with Chellaston Academy in a trust arrangement and Sinfin has been working towards becoming an academy, out of local authority control, in partnership with Chellaston, early next year.
Previously, Sinfin underwent a lengthy dispute with teaching unions over the school’s intention to become an academy under the sponsorship of Derby College.
That plan was abandoned after a series of teachers’ strikes.
Mr Monks said: “If the judgment stands, the school will have regular monitoring visits and I’m concerned it will affect our plans to become an academy.
“It is daunting to complain about the inspection – after all, you are complaining to Ofsted about Ofsted – but the mixed messages and the unfairness could well lead us along that path.”
The inspection report said that “too many lessons are undermined by low-level disruption” which has a “negative impact on students’ learning”.
Mr Monks said: “We accept that we have a number of pupils who present challenging behaviour, with 42 having special educational needs. We have sophisticated systems to minimise disruption in lessons and strategies to work with persistent offenders.”
Mrs Freeman said: “The school has large numbers of Roma and ethnic-minority children and is in an area of deprivation but it doesn’t seem as this has been taken into account.
“I hope the school does complain about this because no-one there deserves this label.”
Dave Wilkinson, branch secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: “The improved exam results point to high standards of teaching but more could be done by management to control pupil behaviour, which was criticised by the inspectors.
“Sinfin Community School teachers should not be held responsible for the school’s current Ofsted category.”
Lynda Poole, city council director of learning and direction, said: “We continue to work on key areas identified in the report with Sinfin Community School.
“In August 2011, Sinfin Community School gained the most improved GCSE results across the city and staff and students are working hard to do well this year.”
Ofsted did not comment.