An independent Muslim school has accused Ofsted of ‘serious failings’ after an inspection was cut short – with the school saying inspectors failed to respect their religious and cultural practices.
The school, which opened in 2018, was undergoing its first inspection and has not been rated ‘inadequate’ based on the evidence inspectors were able to gather.
But management at the Cannon Hill Girls School in Birmingham say they felt ‘belittled and degraded’ by one of the inspector’s conduct during the inspection, reports BirminghamLive.
The school claims one of the inspectors walked into a prayer room while wearing shoes, which they say was disrespectful.
The Ofsted report says the school’s management was “unwilling to cooperate with inspectors,” and “prevented inspectors from collecting the full range of evidence that was needed to inform the inspection”.
The school caters for 21 pupils aged 9-12, and charges £4,000 per year in tuition fees.
The report praises the school for its provision in mathematics and English, but says other subjects are not covered “in enough depth”.
The report reads: “During the inspection, several key documents were withheld from inspectors by the leadership team.
“Inspection activities were not permitted to continue after the second on-site day of the inspection. On the third on site day, the principal obstructed the inspection.
“Leaders were unwilling to cooperate with inspectors. Judgements were made based on the evidence inspectors were able to secure.”
The report saidpupils “behaved well over time,” and “enjoyed coming to school, and are safe and well looked after”.
The school has complained to Ofsted about the conduct of its inspectors during the visit.
A statement from the school reads: “Our decision not to engage with one inspector during the inspection was as a direct result of unacceptable inspection practices and a refusal to respect and observe our religious customs.
“One inspector walked into our prayer room with her shoes on, despite shoe covers being available. It is an established custom in our faith not to enter such areas with outdoor footwear.
“We simply could not allow the dignity and respect owed to our staff, pupils and school to be eroded any further during the inspection and took the decision to raise our concerns with Ofsted’s helpdesk.
“Due to our serious objections to one of the inspectors continuing, Ofsted determined that the inspection would be concluded on the evidence collected up to that point.
“We have called for a further inspection to address the inherent issues with this inspection. Trustees and senior leaders are committed to meeting the independent school standards and to demonstrating compliance to our regulators.
“The current judgements do not reflect our school and we are comforted that our parents and the community share our growing concerns about Ofsted.
“We are all increasingly doubtful about being able to place any faith in inspection judgements.”