The head of Ofsted said today that his inspectors were poised to visit any school across the country to follow up concerns about an unbalanced curriculum or governors abusing their position.
HM Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, confirmed that Ofsted has already conducted inspections in several faith and non-faith schools in other areas to probe issues similar to those uncovered in a number of schools in Birmingham.
Sir Michael has asked his team of Regional Directors to respond swiftly to any further concerns that are brought to their attention – using Ofsted’s existing powers to mount unannounced inspections where necessary.
The move follows this week’s publication of the advice note sent by Sir Michael to the Secretary of State alongside Ofsted’s inspection reports into 21 state-funded, non-faith schools in Birmingham.
The advice note set out evidence of some governors exerting inappropriate influence on the day to day running of their schools. In the most serious cases, HM inspectors found evidence that a number of headteachers – including those with a proud record of raising standards – had been marginalised or forced out of their jobs.
Sir Michael also said that in some of the Birmingham schools inspected, leaders had not adequately addressed the safeguarding issues specific to their community – particularly the potential risks associated with extremism and radicalisation.
Inspectors also found that in a number of schools, the curriculum had become too narrow – reflecting the personal views of a small number of governors and leaving children vulnerable to ‘emotional dislocation’ from the wider community.
Sir Michael Wilshaw said:
‘What inspectors found in a number of schools in Birmingham is deeply disturbing. We should all be concerned if a school – of any kind – is failing to encourage children to develop tolerant attitudes towards other faiths and cultures or allowing governors to exert inappropriate influence on the curriculum or other aspects of school life.
‘It’s vitally important that we remain vigilant for such problems developing in any part of the country.
‘Under Ofsted’s regional structure, our inspectors are now closer to the ground and to those we inspect than ever before. I have asked them to make sure they are using their local knowledge and contacts to identify where these type of problems may be taking hold.
‘Where we hear of concerns, we will respond swiftly in order to reassure parents and the wider community that children are receiving the good, safe and well-rounded education to which they are entitled.’