Text on the website www.finhampark2.co.uk, for a new school, Finham Park 2, stated "Do you want your son or daughter to attend a 'World Class' school? - Do you want your son or daughter to achieve the highest possible academic qualifications? - Do you want your son or daughter to have 'the time of their lives' at a new 21st Century academy - with the added confidence that educational leaders have a proven track record of success in one of Coventry's highest performing schools?".
A complainant challenged whether the term "World Class" was misleading and could be substantiated.
Finham Park School said "World Class" was not a status awarded by Ofsted. They supplied details of the gradings that were awarded by Ofsted for overall effectiveness and the quality of education provided in the school. They said "World Class" was a term used in a variety of ways by many organisations to demonstrate that they had high aspirations, without there necessarily being an award or designation of "World Class". They supplied examples of organisations that used the term.
The ASA considered parents of school-age children would be aware of the rating system Ofsted used and would be likely to realise that "World Class" was not a rating awarded by them. Nevertheless, we still considered "World Class," used alongside references to high academic qualifications and a teaching team with a proven record in high performance in the context of an ad for a school, suggested an objective rating rather than an aspirational term, particularly when presented with capital letters and in speech marks or inverted commas. We noted that, although Finham Park 2 was to be run by the same team that ran a high performing school nearby, Finham Park 2 had not opened at the time of the ad. We understood that it was therefore not possible to see evidence for the qualifications pupils at Finham Park 2 had achieved. We considered nevertheless that the way in which the questions were posed in the ad - "Do you want your son or daughter to attend a 'World Class' school? - Do you want your son or daughter to achieve the highest possible academic qualifications? - Do you want your son or daughter to have 'the time of their lives' at a new 21st Century academy - with the added confidence that educational leaders have a proven track record of success in one of Coventry's highest performing schools?" added to the impression that Finham Park 2 had been assessed objectively as a working school, and that the claims reflected the results of that. Because that was not the case, we considered the ad was likely to mislead.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Finham Park School not to use terms that suggested an objective rating if that was not the case.