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Pupil claims students knew Norwich academy’s Ofsted inspection dates in advance

PUBLISHED: 09:01 21 August 2014 | UPDATED: 09:02 21 August 2014

Dame Rachel de Souza was executive principal at Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey at the time of its May 2013 inspection.

Dame Rachel de Souza was executive principal at Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey at the time of its May 2013 inspection.

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A pupil at an academy involved in allegations about prior notice of inspections has claimed even children knew when Ofsted would come.

The claim came as a councillor called for an Ofsted review of inspections at Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey, Thetford Academy and Great Yarmouth Primary Academy to be independent of the organisation.

Dame Rachel de Souza was executive principal of Victory Academy at the time of the inspection, and now leads the Inspiration Trust, which the other two schools belong to.

The student, who attended Victory at the time, said pupils were told on the Friday before that it would happen the following week.

The inspectors arrived on Tuesday, May 14, last year, and, according to Ofsted rules, the school should not have received notice before noon on Monday, May 13.

The student, who asked not to be named, said: “We were aware the school was due for an inspection that year, because they are due in certain years. But when it got closer to it we were told it could be this week or next week. We were never explicitly told, but everyone was aware.

“Everyone was aware the inspection was going to happen in the next couple of weeks, and then we were aware of which days it was going to happen.”

Ormiston Academies Trust has denied any of its schools had illicit prior notification. Ofsted previously said none of the schools received early warning; the Inspiration Trust has said in a statement “it is false to suggest otherwise”.

On Tuesday, Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of schools, announced Ofsted would review the Norfolk allegations, and wider issues.

However, Denis Crawford, county councillor for Thetford East, said he was concerned a review carried out by Ofsted itself might lack credibility and put off potential witnesses.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “It is entirely appropriate Ofsted investigates complaints raised about its inspections, processes or services. This is in line with our published policy on dealing with complaints.

“As these complaints relate to inspections in the East of England, and due to the seriousness of the allegations raised, HMCI has asked Sir Robin Bosher, director, quality and training and the South East Region to lead in the investigation.

“Sir Robin has had no involvement with any of the inspections concerned in the review.”

Dame Rachel did not comment, but an Inspiration Trust spokesman said it was appropriate for the Ofsted review to run its course.

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