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NUT defends Church of England school over Ofsted downgrade

Fri 21 Nov 2014
By Premier Journalist

The teachers group has questioned how much schools should be expected to monitor pupils' online activities.

It's after Sir John Cass Foundation and Redcoat Church of England Secondary School in Tower Hamlets was put into 'special measures'.

Ofstead outlined a series of concerns, relating to a sixth form student Islamic society, which had links with radical material on YouTube and Facebook.

In the report, published this morning, it claims:

  • Senior leaders are not doing enough to ensure that students are kept safe.
  • The school has not put in place steps to ensure that students, staff and governors understand the risks posed by extremism.
  • The sixth form is inadequate. This is because students have not been given sufficient guidance on the dangers associated with using the internet, particularly in relation to extremist views.
  • Arrangements for vetting visiting speakers and monitoring the activities of student groups are not robust enough to ensure that students are kept safe.

It also criticised the school's gender segregation policy:

  • The school’s approach to the use of playgrounds and common rooms has resulted in the separation of boys and girls when they are out of lessons.

Earlier this morning, the East London National Union of Teacher's released a statement describing Sir John Cass as an "outstanding school" with "committed" staff.

It argued it is "not a failing school" and that "placing it in special measures over a single issue is inappropriate and unhelpful:

"It is an action which simply demonstrates what a blunt instrument Ofsted has become.

"Nevertheless, the safeguarding of pupils' well-being is a priority and schools are clearly well placed to look at what is occurring amongst their students.

"However, the extent to which schools can monitor every interaction by every student on social media is questionable.

"It is inevitable that, in a turbulent world, young people will be exposed to, and express, unacceptable views and opinions. The best way to deal with such issues is through open discussions in school, the local community and within the curriculum.

"The fact that independent schools, academies and free schools cannot be monitored by Local Authorities may well be something the Government needs to re consider."

The C of E school in East London has an 80% intake of Bengali Muslim pupils, which reflects the local area.

The school has yet to comment on the Ofsted report.

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