Tuesday, 25 November 2014

No, Ofsted did not mark down Middle Rasen Primary School for being "too white" or "too English"

"School marked down by Ofsted for being 'too white'", barks the headline of a Telegraph article by Graeme Paton.

Here is how Paton introduces the story:
'Ofsted was accused of “political correctness” after downgrading a top rural primary school for effectively being too English. 
The education watchdog faced a backlash from MPs and parents following the decision to penalise Middle Rasen primary in Lincolnshire for not having enough black or Asian pupils.

In a report, inspectors said the school was “not yet outstanding” because pupils’ cultural development was limited by a “lack of first-hand experience of the diverse make up of modern British society”.'
Predictably, Paton has misrepresented the report, which can be read in its entirety here. This is where he starts to analyse Ofsted's comments:
'The latest report upgraded the school to “good” – the second highest mark – for making significant improvements, with staff creating an “environment in which learning flourishes". 
But the primary missed out on the "outstanding" grade for occasionally failing to set difficult work and giving staff few opportunities to improve their skills. In a key move, it was also downgraded for limiting pupils’ “first-hand experience” of modern society.

The report said: "The large majority of pupils are white British. Very few are from other ethnic groups, and currently no pupils speak English as an additional language."' 
Paton is giving the impression that this last statement - that the majority of pupils are white British - is meant as a criticism. If we look at the actual report, we can see that this is not the case:

Looking at this information in its original context, it is obvious that Ofsted is not criticising the school for its ethnic make-up; the report is simply describing the school's ethnic make-up as one item in a list of basic data.

Now, here is where Ofsted thinks that the school can be improved:

So Ofsted isn't calling for a change in the make-up of the pupils, it is calling for the pupils to be allowed to meet people "beyond the immediate locality" - in other words, to be taken on more varied school trips outside the village. Paton quotes the head teacher as saying that she plans to solve this issue by taking the children to new locations such as a factory, which seems reasonable enough to me.

To summarise: Ofsted has given a small school a "good" but not "outstanding" rating because its school trips are not varied enough. Paton has chosen to report this as Ofsted "downgrading a top rural primary school for effectively being too English".

Naturally, it is Paton's skewed version of the story which has been spread across the net by people who did not bother to check the report for themselves. The Express reported the story with the headline "How can a school be criticised for being too English?" - a good question, but one which is entirely irrelevant to the Ofsted report. The Daily Mail went with "Rural school is denied top grade by Ofsted inspectors because it's 'too English' and not diverse enough". Note the usage of quotation marks around "too English", implying that Ofsted used this term in its report - which it didn't.

The Steadfast Trust, a charity dedicated to pretending that the English are more oppressed than any other ethnic group in the country, inevitably went with the distorted version of the story.

Note that this image was shared from the Facebook page of the Northants English Welfare Society, which I have already outed as a pro-Nazi organisation.

According to the comments posted by the Steadfast Trust's supporters, Ofsted are racist and part of a metropolitan elite that doesn't want the English to exist:

Then we have this fellow who, er, well:

It goes on like this:

"Ionist agenda". That's a new one on me.

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