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Downham school boss welcomes revised Ofsted rating after legal battle

General view of Downham Preparatory School(2430190)
General view of Downham Preparatory School(2430190)

The head of a West Norfolk independent school says she feels vindicated after inspectors reversed the findings of an assessment which triggered a court battle.

Bosses of the Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery took legal action against Ofsted after it was rated inadequate following an inspection last year.

A new inspection, which took place following an out-of-court settlement, has now deemed the school to be good, while its nursery provision was rated as outstanding.

Principal Elizabeth Laffeaty-Sharpe yesterday said the school had effectively “been on hold for a year” while the case, which it spent around £100,000 in legal fees on, was resolved.

She said: “We didn’t feel we could recruit any new children, or do anything, until we had got that report behind us.

“My children are leaving with the same knowledge they always did, but they’re leaving with a massive paper chain behind them.”

The latest assessment, which followed a three-day visit to the school last month, said: “Pupils experience a wide and varied curriculum. Consequently, they develop a love of learning and a desire to excel.”

It praised children’s development into “caring and responsible citizens” and reported good leadership and management.

It also said issues relating to safeguarding and the meeting of standards for independent schools, which the previous inspection report had claimed were not being met, had been addressed.

But the report called for greater precision in the use of assessment data to drive improvement for older children, increased opportunities in maths and science, greater checks for learning progression and further work with families whose children do not attend as regularly as they should.

Mrs Laffeaty-Sharpe said she felt the school had been “extremely unlucky” during the previous inspection.

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