This is an examination of the controversial closure of Hackney Downs School in December 1995. The school, a boys' comprehensive in London, was moved from local authority control after an OFSTED inspection and became the first school to be run by an education association. This study reveals the strong personalities, political battles and intense emotions involved in the attempt to save this highly-publicized example of a "failing" school. It studies issues such as race, class, poverty and politics which surround urban schools and inspection. Two of the authors are the former Head and the former Deputy Headteacher of Hackney Downs School.