THE headteacher of a school which has received a damning report from Ofsted has vowed to fight against the education watchdog after it graded her school as “inadequate” and claimed there are problems with racist and homophobic bullying.

Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College was visited by Ofsted in December, and a report published on Monday said it is “inadequate”


Inspectors found issues surrounding the safeguarding of children, and judged two of the four areas inspected as “inadequate” – leadership and management and personal development, behaviour and welfare.

Both the quality of teaching and outcomes for pupils were judged to “require improvement”.

The inspection team found the school, in Wessex Close, Cranbourne, had inadequate records regarding racist and homophobic bullying, meaning it could not “challenge perpetrators, nor support victims”. It said: “A number of pupils express discriminatory views and these are not consistently challenged.”

The report said that risk assessments and plans were not in place to keep vulnerable pupils safe and secure.

Some pupils told inspectors that homophobic language was not challenged by staff, and in some cases, other pupils join in with targeting a victim.

The 703-pupil school was previously graded as good at an inspection in February 2012.

Headteacher Betty Elkins, who is also the headteacher of the ‘failing’ Fort Hill Community School, in Winklebury, wrote to parents last Monday to say: “Unfortunately, we do not believe the report accurately reflects our college and strongly contest the findings of the inspection. We are in the process (fully supported by the local authority) of filing a complaint.”

She told The Gazette that there had been cut-backs and changes made by Ofsted to the way it inspects schools.

Previously a team of five inspectors would visit a school for two days, but just two inspectors attended Cranbourne on the first day, before calling for back-up from another three inspectors on the second day, after finding concerns.

Mrs Elkins said staff were “angry and upset” at the report, adding: “There’s a very professional and committed team of staff at Cranbourne and they deserve better than this, so I have got to fight.”

She questioned how Ofsted could praise the pastoral team at Cranbourne, who were described as offering “effective support and care for pupils and their parents” but then grade safeguarding as “inadequate”.

She also highlighted various other contradictions, including that the school’s extended curriculum was described as “well thought out and provides pupils with valuable opportunities for personal development” before the report later added: “The school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is inadequate.”

Inspectors raised concerns about the quality of teaching, describing it as “variable”, adding: “Overall, teachers do not expect enough of pupils.”

It added: “The most-able pupils, disabled pupils and those with special educational needs do not make rapid enough improvements in achievement.”

The report said that leaders “assess the impact of their work over-generously”.

In order to improve, Cranbourne was asked to “urgently ensure that the school keeps all pupils safe and secure”, raise academic achievement and “rapidly improve leadership and management.”

Mrs Elkins said: “I’ve never said we’re perfect because, of course, we’re not. I’ve never said we get everything right.

"My message is to come and talk to us, because life isn’t about getting everything right, life is about what you do about it.”

A spokesman for Ofsted said: “While we do not confirm or comment on complaints received about a school, we treat all complaints seriously.”

Councillor Peter Edgar, Hampshire County Council's executive member for education, added: “We are obviously disappointed in the college’s Ofsted judgement. I know that the staff and governing body are working hard to address the issues identified in Ofsted’s report and will put in place a robust plan for college improvement.

"The county council will be working closely with the college to address the areas of concern.”