News

Public statement on false reporting by The New Blackmore Vale Magazine

As a Trust we were upset to see highly misleading information being published in the latest edition of The Blackmore Vale magazine.

Despite contacting the organisation twice, we have still had no response or acknowledgement of our complaint, and we do not think it is fair on our staff to leave these incorrect stories unchallenged.

The BVM falsely printed that St Andrew’s Primary School in Fontmell Magna has recently been inspected by Ofsted and rated ‘Inadequate’. Actually, following their recent visit, Ofsted took St Andrew’s out of Special Measures or ‘Inadequate’, praising the school’s efforts and story of improvement in just two terms of new leadership. The school is now rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ and anyone who visits the school would find out what a warm, caring, and nurturing environment the staff have created there.

To falsely label a school as ‘Inadequate’ when it is not, is incredibly harmful. Not only could it put potential parents off choosing this rapidly improving village school, but it demeans the hard work of the Headteacher and her team, who have worked tirelessly over the last year to turn the school around.

Headteacher Debbie Brown had this to say to the BVM “Whilst I’m sure negative press sells papers; I was appalled to read that you had printed an inaccurate and potentially damaging article on our fabulous little school. Why would you print such an article, what will this achieve other than to harm us?

I trust that you will make a public apology in the next publication, read the report in full and choose some of the many positive statements written in it to report on. Perhaps you could have spoken to us or to parents about what is actually happening here instead of making it all up”.

Even a cursory fact checking exercise would have told the journalist involved the real facts, with the Ofsted report being openly available online for all to read.

Unfortunately, the inaccurate reporting did not end there from the BVM. On the same page they published an article about another SAST primary school in Okeford Fitzpaine. They wrongly named the school ‘St Andrew’s’ (again basic due diligence would have meant this didn’t happen) and declared that the school ‘will close and not reopen in September’. We are actually in the middle of a public consultation on the future of the school, with no final decision being made until later in the year, so again the BVM’s statement is misleading.

The page of inaccurate stories ends with a section on SAST; they state our total number of schools, which is wrong – both in terms of primary and secondary – again, a quick check of our website would have given them the correct information. It then says we’ve had 3 other ‘Good’ Ofsted reports this year. Actually, as a Trust we’ve had 7 Ofsted inspections this year – 6 achieving strong ‘Good’ ratings, with 2 of those moving up from ‘Requires Improvement’, and St Andrew’s moving from ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Requires Improvement’ – which as you can see demonstrates a strong culture of improving schools within our organisation.

We’ve never complained about news coverage before as a Trust, and we do not expect to receive only positive coverage. But when false news is reported in this way, we feel it is only right to stand up for our staff who have been incredibly distressed by this. We teach our students the importance of telling the truth and being accurate, checking their sources, and how important the media is to keep society informed. We hope the BVM will endeavour to do better in future. And we hope they will finally get in touch to apologise and retract their incorrect stories.

From Colin Sinclair, CEO

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