AN under-threat primary school near York has featured in a national debate in Parliament on the fairness of Ofsted inspections.

Naburn Church of England Primary School, which at one point this year saw pupil numbers fall to just 33, has been warned that it must become part of an academy chain within months or face the risk of closure.

City of York Council says it is adopting a ‘twin track’ approach to the school's future in which a search for an academy sponsor will run alongside a consultation which could lead to it closing.

The school, which has traditionally had a good reputation, was rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted following an inspection last December.

But new headteacher Jonathan Green, who was only appointed in September, has spoken of his determination to turn the school around. And he was given the full backing of parents, staff and villagers in Naburn at a community meeting last month.

Now York Outer Conservative MP Julian Sturdy has highlighted the school's case in a Parliamentary debate on the accountability of Ofsted.

Mr Sturdy said he called Wednesday's debate because of concerns raised by teachers and parents in Naburn about the limited options for the school to challenge its Ofsted inspection.

The inspection came just 24 days after Mr Green took up his post, Mr Sturdy said. Ofsted had also been criticised for not giving enough weight to the reasons for low attendance rates at the school - which until recently had a high proportion of students from the traveller community.

During the debate, Mr Sturdy - whose staff surveyed 2000 teachers and governors from across the country about their experience of Ofsted inspections and the appeals process - highlighted the feeling of 'powerlessness' felt by the school over the lack of a 'binding independent appeals mechanism'.

Speaking afterwards, he said: “After attending a packed public meeting about the future of the school in Naburn it was clear that the overriding view amongst parents and teachers was one of frustration.

"Whilst the school acknowledges many of the points raised in the Ofsted report, there remain issues on which it feels it did not get a fair hearing.

"Given the profound impact that the report will have for the school’s future it is important that it is given every opportunity to make its case, something that it is simply not afforded under the current appeals procedure.

"I was very grateful for the contribution of nearly 2000 teachers, parents and governors, including many from York Outer who took the time to fill out my survey.

"This allowed me to draw from the experience of those who have dealt with Ofsted first-hand in making a case for an enhanced independent appeals process.”

Anne Clark, who is vice-chair of the school's governors, welcomed Mr Sturdy's intervention.

"If we had felt there was a way to get Ofsted to consider our views we would have taken it. But there was no route to do so," she said.