EXCLUSIVE: ‘One of the worst reports we have read’ is county council verdict on Ely College Ofsted findings

Ely College. Picture: Steve Williams.

Ely College. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

One of Cambridgeshire’s most senior education officials described the Ofsted inspection of Ely College as “one of the worst reports we have read”.

Ely College. Picture: Steve Williams.

Ely College. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Keith Grimwade, director of learning, summarised the findings in a confidential email ahead of the report’s publication

He warned three councillors- Daniel Divine, Anna Bailey and Mike Rouse – on March 25 that the college was about to be placed in special measures.

But he also admitted the county council had no powers of intervention because the school is an academy.

“That does not mean we are walking away from it,” he said pointing out that Adrian Loades, director of children’s services, and he had already expressed their concerns to the regional commissioner for academies and the regional director for Ofsted

Mr Grimwade said: “It is one of the worst reports we have read and is bound to attract a lot of attention. Their previous inspection was good, two years ago. The school had rated itself as ‘requiring improvement’.

“Of course, the college is an academy and the local authority has no power of intervention. That does not mean we are walking away from it.

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“We have offered to work with them where we can and are able to do so. We do, of course, still provide services for them, e.g. through the locality team.

“In particular, we are following up the safeguarding issues, where we do have powers of intervention, and I will report on these soon.”

The Ely Standard used a Freedom of Information request to obtain the email but Ofsted has refused to reveal supporting documents to back up their findings.

Ofsted says that doing so would “distract attention” from turning the school around.

In a report published late last month by inspectors, the school was branded inadequate and placed into special measures, with head teacher Catherine Jenkinson-Dix and two of her deputies resigning as a result.

Ofsted said standards in numeracy and literacy had dropped, targets for pupils were unrealistic and changes in staffing had reduced the quality of teaching.

Inspectors also said that “too many students” were being removed from lessons during the day because of behavioural problems and blamed the school’s zero-tolerance policy on “many days of learning being lost”.

In light of the report, this newspaper attempted to obtain information from Ofsted relating to its inspection, which took place in February, but the inspectorate refused to disclosure any information on the grounds that it may “distract attention” from efforts to improve the school.