School's top rating lost after teacher’s arrest

A school which became the centre of national attention after one of its teachers left the country with a child has lost its “outstanding” rating.

Inspectors from Ofsted visited Bishop Bell CE School in Priory Road, Eastbourne, last month.

This was just weeks after maths teacher Jeremy Forrest, 30, was arrested with a 15-year-old girl in Bordeaux, France.

Despite recognising its pupils feel safe, praising its “strong leadership” and admitting the school had improved, inspectors downgraded it to a “good” rating.

The Argus understands staff at the school were told by managers it would have been outstanding – as it was after its last inspection in June 2010 – but for the Forrest incident.

Head teacher Terry Boatwright told The Argus: “Clearly the inspectors had to be very careful how they graded the school as it would be under public scrutiny.”

Improvement

He added: “We are delighted that the new Ofsted report recognises how much the school has improved in the two years since the last inspection.

“We’re in education and we have to keep learning and getting better so we’re not going to sit still.”

The inspection was carried out by five inspectors, with one specifically looking into the safety of children.

Three of the inspectors were ranked as seniors. Some schools do not get any senior inspectors.

The report, which was published last week, praised teaching quality and student behaviour, adding one of its strengths was pupils’ “willingness to learn”.

But inspectors said the school was not outstanding as the proportion of GCSE A* to C grades is not high enough in some subjects.

Safety arrangements

It added marking is not consistently good while some more able students and those with special educational needs do not achieve as well as they should.

When discussing safeguarding students, the report said: “School leaders have commissioned an external review of its safeguarding arrangements from the local authority.

“A date has yet to be identified for this to take place.

“The school is keen to identify what it can do to improve upon its current practice.”

Forrest, a married amateur musician from Ringmer, was charged with abducting a child by Sussex Police on October 10 after he was extradited back to Britain.

Now of Chislehurst Road, Petts Wood, south-east London, he will appear at Lewes Crown Court on January 11.

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