BOSSES at a top grammar school have forked out £57,000 in legal fees following a damning Ofsted inspection, the Gazette can reveal.

Data obtained via a Freedom of Information request shows Colchester Royal Grammar School paid out £57,172 in legal costs since May 2021.

That compares to just £505.50 being dedicated to the same expenditure during the financial year between 2019 and 2020.

The figures also reveal the prestigious school, in Lexden Road, Colchester, also spent just shy of £8,000 on acquiring the services of a public relations company.

Gazette: Head teacher - John RussellHead teacher - John Russell

A Colchester Royal Grammar School spokesman said the costs “extend across all aspects of school life” and stated it would be “inaccurate” to suggest the money was spent on a sole issue.

He added the pandemic had a part to play in influencing the low expenditure in 2019 to 2020.

The Ofsted report, published in July 2021, said certain parts of the school “have become a hostile environment for some pupils”.

It said: “A significant number of pupils feel uncomfortable or unsafe in school and report being the subject of insulting and damaging comments regarding their gender, appearance, race or sexual orientation.

“Pupils are too often reluctant to pass their concerns on to staff.

Gazette: Historic - the grounds of Colchester Royal Grammar SchoolHistoric - the grounds of Colchester Royal Grammar School

“Consequently, leaders are largely unaware of the difficulties some pupils face.”

The school is one of the top grammar schools in the country for outstanding exam results.

A former grammar school student, who remains anonymous, said: “There were a lot of opportunities available with this much money.

“It could have been spent recruiting more counsellors, for example, which may have addressed the root cause of the issue.

“Instead, their priorities lay in defending their reputation.”

Gazette: School - the school's entrance in Lexden RoadSchool - the school's entrance in Lexden Road

The school spokesman said money used in response to the Ofsted inspection was the school addressing issues raised and “not shying away or hiding from them”.

He added: “These costs cover a period of nearly a year, and extend across all aspects of school life.

“Our PR support also covers everything from drafting copy for our newsletters to helping celebrate the success of our students during exam results.

“As is required, we have taken legal advice to support some important decisions and changes and we have tried to be as transparent as possible.”

“As Ofsted noted in their most recent monitoring visit, the school is making rapid improvements.”