Why did Thomas Mills not have an Ofsted inspection for more than 10 years?

Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham Picture: GOOGLE

Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham - Credit: Google Maps

Framlingham's Thomas Mills High School didn't have an Ofsted inspection for 11 years between 2010 and 2021, in that time its overall rating dropped from 'outstanding' to 'inadequate'.

Despite being rated 'good' for quality of education, behaviour and attitudes and sixth-form provision, the leadership and management was deemed 'inadequate'.

Ofsted has published its annual report today

Ofsted had a policy where schools deemed to be 'outstanding' were exempt from further routine inspection - Credit: PA

Though if an inspection took place in the decade since the interim inspection, there is an argument some issues identified in the newest report could have been spotted much earlier.

The reason behind the long gap is because between May 15, 2012, and November 13, 2020, primary and secondary schools and academies judged to be 'outstanding' at their most recent were exempt from routine inspections.

Which means pupils would have joined and left Thomas Mills High School without it ever being inspected while they attended.

These schools are now once again subject to routine inspections, which is why the inspection took place last year.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders - Credit: Archant

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “It is right that Ofsted once again inspects all schools regularly, on behalf of parents and communities.

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“But it is important to note that the way Ofsted works and what it focuses on have changed a lot over the years. So, in reading an Ofsted report today compared with one from more than ten years ago, we aren’t comparing like with like – whether around the curriculum, teaching, or safeguarding.

“We all therefore need to keep in mind that Ofsted only gives us a partial picture of the actual quality of what is happening in our schools and colleges.”

Headteacher Philip Hurst said in a letter to parents that it may seem an "unusual report" with so many positives listed without them being reflected in their overall effectiveness.

Ofsted's website says that if an academy is judged as having serious weaknesses or requiring special measures, they will monitor the school to check its progress.

They will then carry out a full inspection within 30 months of the publication of the academy’s previous report.

Mr Hurst confirmed the school will have an interim Ofsted visit at some point in the near future, with their focus predicted to be on their new safeguarding arrangements and action plan.