A highly rated Horncastle school has been told it could not be ranked as outstanding because pupils’ awareness of other British cultures is not strong enough.
St Lawrence School, in Bowl Alley Lane, caters for 140 children with special needs.
The school is celebrating its best-ever Ofsted report after being rated as good. It was previously rated as ‘satisfactory.’
Inspectors praised the school’s leadership and management, the behaviour and safety of pupils, the quality of teaching and the achievement of pupils.
However, Ofsted say one of four reasons why the school is not yet outstanding is that ‘pupils’ awareness of wider issues of modern Britain and other cultures is not as strong as other aspects of their personal development.’
A relative of one pupil, who did not want to be named, said: “The school is absolutely brilliant. Everyone does a fantastic job and for Ofsted to say it’s not multi-cultural enough is ridiculous. This is Lincolnshire - not inner London.”
Later on in their report, inspectors add: “Staff think carefully about how they will support pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and reflect this in their planning.
“Pupils are respectful to one another and have learned about democracy through activities such as elections to the school council although some aspects of life in modern Britain, including different cultures within it, are not so systematically provided for.”
It is the second Lincolnshire school to be criticised by Ofsted for cultural reasons following Middle Rasen Primary last week.
St Lawrence School is part of the Lincolnshire Wolds Federation.
Executive Head Lea Mason told the News that staff were determined to take Ofsted’s concerns on board and secure outstanding status.
She said: “It’s a challenge living in rural Lincolnshire.
“There are things we can be more explicit about in supporting our students to have experiences and recall experiences that they have had.
“We can use the links that we have got further afield to have a more easily accessible multi-cultural environment.
“ We can use the skills we have got in IT to support this.
“You have got to have a benchmark somewhere.
“We provide lots of different opportunities for our students to experience different cultures.
“But because they are not immersed in it every single day, the challenge for us is to make sure that they have that recollection and on-going awareness of other cultures.”
Mrs Mason and Mrs Michelle Hockham (Head of School) said meeting the criteria was especially challenging for special needs pupils.
Mrs Mason added: “It’s part of our on-going plan but something that is difficult to achieve.
“In a mainstream setting, where students would find it easier to travel further afield, then for our youngsters that would be quite a challenge.
“Whenever we go on a visit, we have to ensure there are facilities to meet the needs of students.
“It is about being creative - and our team being creative - to how we achieve this.
“Our students did not express their understanding in a way that the inspectors found to be coherent enough.”
Mrs Mason said staff were absolutely delighted with the Ofsted rating. She said: ”It’s the highest mark we’ve ever got.
“It’s about commitment, a team effort. The report is the testament to the hard work of everyone.”
Mrs Hoakham added: “It wasn’t a nervous time because what they (Ofsted) saw is what we are doing every single day.
“A lot of the things mentioned we already knew and were already identified on our development plan.
“The inspection team agreed with all out self evaluation programme. The hard work goes on.”
The school celebrated the glowing report with a tea party while day trips were arranged to a zoo, Caythorpe and indoor bowling.