Bury St Edmunds: Inspectors return to St Benedict’s Catholic School after controversial Ofsted report was withdrawn due to “quality concerns”

Hugh O'Neill, headteacher of St Benedict's School, Bury St Edmunds.

Hugh O'Neill, headteacher of St Benedict's School, Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Contributed

Inspectors have returned to St Benedict’s Catholic School following a controversial Ofsted report that was quickly withdrawn by the regulatory body.

The Bury St Edmunds school was the subject of a ‘snap inspection’ last month and the subsequent report downgraded the high achieving secondary to “requires improvement”.

However, shortly after the new report was published headteacher Hugh O’Neill was told to take down the report from the website due to “quality concerns” and Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools (HMI) paid a visit on Friday.

Mr O’Neill said: “We had a visit from the inspectors following quality concerns about the report.

“We don’t know what will happen but we are hopeful that the report will restore our “good” rating

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“The report will go back for writing and then we will be sent a draft version for checking and then it will be published, so we won’t know for a couple of weeks.”

The ‘snap inspection’ procedure was introduced following concerns over radicalisation and extremism in some previously “good” and “outstanding” schools in Birmingham.

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Mr O’Neil believes his school was targeted because the website was “non-compliant”, omitting statements about citizenship.

The report was criticised by parents on social media after the school recorded some of its best results for three years at GCSE and best ever at A-Level.

Sue Goodlad, press relations officer for the school, said that the time the two Ofsted inspections take out of the staff’s day was not particularly helpful

The decision to remove the report was made after Sean Harford, Ofsted’s regional director in the East of England, raised concerns.

Graham White, Suffolk secretary of the National Teacher’s Union, said: “St Bendedicts is a good school, I am not saying it cannot improve, as we can always improve, but it is a very good school

“I am hopeful Ofsted will make the right decision and restore the school’s rating.

“We have not lost confidence in Ofsted, it has long been a political arm of the government, so we do not have any confidence to lose – but they made the correct decision to bring down the last report.”

A spokeswoman for Ofsted said: “We can confirm that Her Majesty’s Inspectors visited the school on Friday to gather further evidence after a recent unannounced inspection.

“The final report will be published in due course following quality assurance checks.”

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