Staff left in tears by 'rude' Ofsted inspectors

5th August 2011 at 01:00
Head Jenny Queripel's school was judged outstanding, but staff were upset by the inspectors' attitude

The celebrations for an outstanding Ofsted report at Mill Rythe Junior on Hayling Island, Portsmouth, did not go quite as planned.

"After an inspection, I've always got in champagne for the staff," said Jenny Queripel, the head who took charge at the school 12 years ago, when it was deemed satisfactory.

"So we had champagne and strawberries but staff were crying; it wasn't a celebration - it was like a wake."

The report is glowing. It describes Mrs Queripel as visionary, the teaching as lively and pupils as hardworking with excellent behaviour. But it was the way the inspection had been carried out that made those involved want to forget it as quickly as possible.

Mrs Queripel said: "I expect to be challenged. But it was the manner of the inspectors, the way they spoke to our staff that we felt was rude and dismissive. It wasn't what they said - it was the way they said it. They didn't treat us with respect and obviously we were doing a good job, but we felt demoralised when they'd gone."

Mrs Queripel has not made a formal complaint to Ofsted and says she has no disagreement with the judgments or technicalities of the Ofsted inspection. But she has spoken out because she is angry. She said such a confrontational tone was unnecessary and fears this attitude could put teachers off.

"I am not a whinger," she said. "I love my job, I have a lovely school and a lovely team. But why can't they get heads any more? Because they do not want to go through that. Why can't schools get governors any more? Well, why go through that as a volunteer? It is unnecessarily harsh."

The assessment by three inspectors lasted two days. Mrs Queripel was reluctant to raise concerns about the team's tone before the inspection report was written but said she did note it on the evaluation form which she was sent afterwards.

"I had regarded Ofsted as a positive experience - both times they visited previously they helped to move the school on. The second inspector was absolutely charming and identified what we needed to do better in a most delightful way.

"This time I had to work very hard to stop my chair of governors resigning, to mop up teachers who felt hopeless. It was not only unpleasant, it was unnecessary."

An Ofsted spokesperson said: "We encourage all schools to provide us feedback following their inspection experience so that we can be alert to any issues. We also have a clear complaints process for any school that is unhappy with the way their inspection is conducted."

Original headline: Staff at `outstanding' school left in tears by `rude' Ofsted inspectors

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