Challenge Ofsted’s approach to inspection of Steiner Schools

by Governing Body of Steiner Academy Bristol

Challenge Ofsted’s approach to inspection of Steiner Schools

by Governing Body of Steiner Academy Bristol
Governing Body of Steiner Academy Bristol
Case Owner
We seek to apply to the High Court for a ruling that the inspection process & the judgements formed are irrational & show evidence of apparent bias & the inspection report be quashed.
Funded
on 29th January 2019
£18,800
pledged of £50,000 stretch target from 370 pledges
Governing Body of Steiner Academy Bristol
Case Owner
We seek to apply to the High Court for a ruling that the inspection process & the judgements formed are irrational & show evidence of apparent bias & the inspection report be quashed.

Latest: April 1, 2019

March 2019 Update

Thank you to all those who have donated to our legal challenge, we couldn’t have done this without you all. The latest position on our case is below:

Our judicial review claim was lodged on 25...

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Steiner Academy Bristol is a free school which opened in Bristol in 2014. The school was inspected by Ofsted in November and judged to be Inadequate and is now in Special Measures. This will mean that the Academy will be taken over by a Multi-Academy Trust and it may not continue to follow the Steiner Curriculum and philosophy. 

Whilst we take the report very seriously we had a number of concerns about it's findings and wanted to work with Ofsted to resolve these. Unfortunately we feel that the position Ofsted has adopted throughout this process has left the board of governors with no other option than to investigate a legal challenge. 

We are therefore raising funds to mount a legal challenge against Ofsted's decision. If you believe in maintaining Steiner education in the state sector - or just that schools should be able to offer a different kind of education - please contribute now and share this page with your friends, family and on social media.

The legal claim will argue that the Ofsted inspection was flawed, that they failed to follow guidance and the code of conduct relating to inspections, and the inspectors lacked a proper evidential basis for their conclusions. It will also argue that we believe that there was apparent bias in the way that Ofsted carried out their inspection. 

In December 2018 an article in Telegraph stated the Education Secretary Damian Hinds had written to the chief inspector of Ofsted demanding “additional scrutiny” of all Steiner schools in a memo to the Chief Inspector of Ofsted dated 15th November 2018. We have requested disclosure of this letter, but the request has been refused.

We believe that the inspection and judgement process suggests an apparent bias against Steiner education. We are concerned that multiple Steiner Academies were subjected to unannounced inspections over a very short time period and we are asking the High Court to make a ruling that the inspectors came into school with a pre-determined view. 

For the above reasons, we requested Ofsted carry out a fresh inspection with a new team of inspectors. We also asked Ofsted to provide us with documents to properly understand the reason for the unannounced inspection and what information had been provided to inspectors beforehand.  

Ofsted have refused our request so to do. 

We now seek to have the inspection process and judgements in the report judicially reviewed.

What we are fighting for

Our initial goal is to instruct our legal team to prepare the case to issue judicial review proceedings and obtain disclosure of information. We have made multiple requests, including via a ‘pre-action’ legal letter, but Ofsted have refused to provide us with the information we requested because they say it is not 'proportionate'. With these documents we will be able to properly consider our legal challenge. 

How much we are raising and why? 

At this stage we need to raise £15,000 to cover the estimated legal costs to prepare the case to issue Judicial Review proceedings and to ask for an order for Ofsted to disclose key documents. But we can't do it without your help. 

The funds we raise will cover our legal costs for this first stage of the case and any potential liability for other legal fees if our case is not successful. If there are any left-over funds they will be put into an improvement fund for the school. 

Time is of the essence so please help us NOW! Contribute as much or as little as you can and PLEASE spread the word and share this page. Many thanks.





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Update 5

Governing Body of Steiner Academy Bristol

April 1, 2019

March 2019 Update

Thank you to all those who have donated to our legal challenge, we couldn’t have done this without you all. The latest position on our case is below:

Our judicial review claim was lodged on 25 February (running to more than 1000 pages). There were 3 grounds to the claim:

  • Irrationality/unreasonableness - decision by Ofsted to confirm the inspection judgment and the findings of the 2019 report irrational.
  • Failure to follow guidance – inspection process in clear breach of Ofsted’s own guidance.
  • Apparent bias in the inspection process – Ofsted failed to undertake an objectively independent process free from the appearance of bias.

The High Court made an order for specific disclosure on the following day 26 February: 

1. ‘The Defendant shall disclose to the Claimant by 4pm on 13 March

a. copies of any pre-inspection briefings that set out lines of enquiry and any supporting information provided to inspectors before their arrival at the Academy.

b. The number of complaints which led to the inspection and the focus of each complaint.

c. Any documentation explaining the alleged “serious concerns” that were reported to Ofsted ......as referred to in the Claimant’s solicitor’s letter of 15 January 2019.

2. The Defendant shall file an Acknowledgement of Service and summary grounds of resistance by 4pm on 22 March.’

Ofsted sent their response to the disclosure order on 13 March which the legal team has reviewed. Counsel has advised in the light of this that a further ground should be added to our claim.

We now need to raise more funds in order to take the case forward, including paying for the extra work entailed in adding a new ground to our claim. The latter means we need to raise £2500 immediately.

On 20 March, our solicitors wrote to Ofsted informing them that we intend to add a 4th ground to our claim and requesting that the timetable is put back a week. Ofsted respond by filing defence on 21 March, disputing every aspect of our claim. Application has now been made by our solicitors to the High Court to stay proceedings for 2 weeks.

If we proceed with case to its conclusion, we would need to raise another £45,000. If wholly successful, the court would quash the report which would mean we would no longer be in special measures and the AMC would be disbanded. The school would no longer carry the label of ‘inadequate’ and would no longer be in ‘special measures’.

We need to raise the £2,500 immediately to cover the extra costs involved in seeking a stay of proceedings and adding a new ground to our application together with supporting evidence so we are seeking immediate donations to this amount. 

Thank you again for all your support, if you feel able to contribute to this next stage we’d be very grateful.

Update 4

Governing Body of Steiner Academy Bristol

Feb. 26, 2019

Application for Judicial Review lodged - next stage

We lodged our application for judicial review on 25 February. There are 3 grounds for our application:

Ground 1: Irrationality/Unreasonableness

Ground 2: Failure to follow guidance

Ground 3: Apparent bias in the Inspection process

Our claim was supported by a number of witness statements, including ones from a parent and our school improvement partner. 

A judge has looked at our request for an interim order for disclosure and yesterday (26 Feb) agreed to order Ofsted to disclose to us certain key documentation by 13 March. 

Ofsted must also respond to the application for judicial review by 22 March. The court will then decide whether the case is strong enough to proceed to a full hearing. 


Update 3

Governing Body of Steiner Academy Bristol

Jan. 29, 2019

First milestone reached - Thank you everyone!

We are so delighted by all the pledges of support which mean we have hit our first target of £15,000. Thank you so much! 

We are now instructing our legal team to issue proceedings for a judicial review of our inspection. They will apply for an immediate order requiring OFSTED to disclose key evidence which we believe will support our contention of bias, unfairness and irrationality.

With this disclosure and all the evidence we have supplied them with, our legal team will be able to advise us on the strength of our case. If, as we believe, they advise us that we have a good case, we will take the case to a full hearing.

We will keep you updated on our progress as soon as we are able to share information.

We will need to continue to raise funds to take this to the High Court, please continue to share the campaign and donate. Please keep supporting us so we will be able to fight on. 

Thank you again for your support, we really feel we have so many people backing us!

Update 2

Governing Body of Steiner Academy Bristol

Jan. 27, 2019

Nearly there! Please keep sharing

Wow thank you so much to everyone who has pledged. We are nearly there, its fantastic.

Please keep sharing the campaign to help us meet our target. 

Update 1

Governing Body of Steiner Academy Bristol

Jan. 24, 2019

Half way to our target!

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated so far, we're overwhelmed with the message of support from around the globe. Today we have had lots more additional press coverage of the case from The Guardian, TES and Schools Week, starting to share our message in the national media.  

Please continue to share this page and ask your friends and family to donate to this cause. Can you email 5 friends today? Or share the page on your Facebook page? 

Thank you again for your support. 

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