A HEREFORD secondary school has hit back after Ofsted said it was inadequate and inspectors had concerns over safeguarding and the number of suspensions and exclusions.

Ofsted left Whitecross Hereford with an overall grade of inadequate, two lower than the previous rating of good in 2013, because of ineffective safeguarding and the fact the number of pupils being excluded and suspended was high and not falling.

The school, with 949 students aged between 11 and 16, was praised though for its curriculum, quality of learning and personal development.

But headteacher Tim Knapp said the school was "shocked and saddened" by the outcome of its Ofsted inspection in February.

He said the report, published this week, has left "everyone in out school devastated by an outcome that does not reflect the hard work of students and staff and the support of our parents and governors".

He blamed a technical matter for the school's inadequate rating, saying it related to pre-employment checks on two volunteer governors.

"Neither governor was ever in school unaccompanied and the school believed it had met the requirements for safer recruitment checks for the two individuals," he said.

"Ofsted disagreed and because of this technical matter, it was judged that safeguarding was not effective and that therefore leadership and management must also be judged inadequate.

"An inadequate judgement for leadership and management automatically means the judgement overall must be inadequate."

Mr Knapp said no child was ever at risk and as the report itself made that clear, saying: "Leaders have robust systems in place to safeguard pupils who are at risk. Leaders know their pupils well and are tenacious in securing the help that they need."

He also said the report "rightly recognises" the quality of education and provision for students.

On the judgement of requires improvement for behaviour and attitudes, Mr Knapp told parents it was due to an "interpretation of our current suspension data".

He said that interpretation does not reflect the work the school does to support students "while also upholding the highest standards".


Marc Hales, chair of the board of trustees, said: "We are bitterly disappointed with this outcome.

"The judgement, which we have challenged through the complaints process, does not reflect the school’s provision for our children but is based on a technical matter relating to safeguarding checks.

"I want to pay tribute to both the staff who routinely go above and beyond and to our fantastic students. Together I believe we continue to make our school a great place to be."

Mr Knapp also said: "We remain the same school we were before the inspection and will continue to strive to create the very best school we can.

"We are never complacent and have already addressed the areas for improvement raised in the report.

"I am confident that with a prompt re-inspection we will quickly be able to put this report behind us."