NORTH Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) is in process of setting up an Interim Executive Board (IEB) to take over governance of Lady Lumley’s School in Pickering as it moves towards academy status.

The school was rated “inadequate” by Ofsted following reports of bullying of racist and homophobic language.

Publication of the report was delayed as the school challenged the findings and subsequently took legal action.

Pickering County Cllr Greg White said it was now important to work with the Schools’ Commissioner, who would appoint a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) .

“When school leaders are faced with a devastatingly critical Ofsted report, which they believe to be deeply flawed and unfair, they are bound to want to challenge it,” he said.

“We could have an inquest into how a school, which has good teachers, good teaching and good results, has ended up in this position.

“In my view, it is more important to work with the Schools’ Commissioner, to try and ensure that she chooses a MAT that will be responsive to the needs of parents, pupils and the wider Pickering community.”

Stephen Croft, chairman of governors, defended the school’s decision to take legal action.

“The inspectors witnessed no bad behaviour. When we lodged a complaint, Ofsted refused to reconsider its verdict. Given the damage that an ‘inadequate’ rating would do to the school, including forcing the school to join an academy chain, our only remedy was to seek a judicial review. NYCC agreed that the Ofsted judgement was wrong.

“Legal challenges cost money but the school had built up a surplus to deal with unforeseen circumstances. In the end, NYCC panicked about the costs and pulled the plug on our action, just before the court decision.

“None of this should ever happen. If a school disputes its Ofsted rating or challenges the accuracy of Ofsted’s findings, then there should be a route to an independent review. All we sought was a judicial review.”

A spokesperson for NYCC said: “The costs for the legal action came from the school’s own budget. NYCC’s decision to intervene was made as a result of both the Ofsted inspection and information from the school regarding the likely cost of court action, which prompted the council to immediately put in place spending restrictions for the school, along with an application to set up an IEB.”