Governors Concerned About Ofsted’s Approach To Steiner Schools
The Governing Body of the Steiner Academy Bristol is set to launch a legal challenge opposing its latest Ofsted rating which has resulted in it being placed in special measures.
The board is seeking to challenge the inspection process and report following an unannounced inspection at the end of November.
This inspection came after a letter sent from the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds to the Chief Inspector of Ofsted demanding “additional scrutiny” of all Steiner schools. Governors are concerned that the approach of Ofsted to Steiner Schools has impacted on the fairness and independence of the inspection process.
The academy requested that Ofsted re-inspect with a fresh inspection team but this was refused.
The governing body has now launched a crowdfunding page which will allow lawyers to apply to the High Court for a judicial review challenging the legality of the Ofsted inspection process and report.
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Roy Douglas, a Governor at Steiner Academy Bristol, said: “While we take the report very seriously and recognise that improvements need to be made, we do not consider that the decision to place us in special measures was fair. We have a number of concerns about the way the inspection process was conducted and the judgments made and wanted to work with Ofsted to resolve these.
“Unfortunately we feel that the position Ofsted has adopted throughout this process has left the board of governors with no other option to pursue a legal challenge.
“We are concerned about Ofsted’s approach and what this means for the future of state-funded Steiner education.
“Everyone at Steiner Academy Bristol is committed to providing the best possible education for students in a safe and welcoming environment, reflecting the Steiner ethos. Many parents are extremely supportive of the progress we are making.
“Whilst we have decided we have no alternative but to issue a legal challenge regarding the inspection, we will continue to support the Academy Management Committee which has taken interim responsibility for managing the school in delivering sustained improvements.”
A parents’ petition calling for a fresh Ofsted inspection has now reached more than 1,000 signatories.
Deb Meachin, a parent on the school commented: “I am a qualified nursery nurse with huge amounts of child development experience. I have worked in education settings, as a private nanny and now with pre-schoolers. I have three children, 13, 11 and eight who have all been through the Steiner system from age three. It has met every aspect of my children's development in such a positive way.
“I chose Steiner education because I didn't want my children to be part of a system that puts more emphasis on testing, ticking boxes and results, with reduced time for creativity. It has encouraged my children's individualism and it has been the best choice we have made for our family.”
The Governing Body has instructed Polly Sweeney, specialist public law lawyer and partner at Irwin Mitchell LLP.
For more information on the crowdfunding appeal visit https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/protectsteinerschools/