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Bradford's first free school is ordered to improve
Bradford’s first free school, hailed by Secretary of State for education Michael Gove as a ‘flagship school’, has been ordered to improve in all areas by Ofsted inspectors.
The Kings Science Academy’s first inspection by the education watchdog found it needs to make improvements in all the main areas examined during the visit, including the achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and its leadership and management.
Inspectors also ordered an external review into its governance and said governors should “urgently” receive training to allow them to support and challenge the school.
But Sajid Hussain Raza, principal of the academy which opened in 2011 under the Government’s reforms which encouraged the creation of new state schools, last night said Ofsted found it “very difficult” to understand its education methods, homework programme or teaching.
“Our education may be not be aligned to an ‘Ofsted criteria’ and their judgement is something our parents, students and National Leaders of Education (NLEs) who have visited strongly disagree with,” he added.
The report, published this week, said the academy needed to improve its teaching so all students make consistently good or better progress in all lessons and to improve its leadership and management at all levels.
It also warned that because it has recently moved to a new site in Lidget Green, it is not yet possible to do practical science work and design and technology are not taught because of a lack of space.
Inspectors also criticised its governing body, saying it is not well enough informed about the achievement of different groups of students or the quality of teaching and their ability to improve the academy’s “effectiveness” was therefore limited.
The report adds: “They have been concerned with establishing the academy and have not been sufficiently robust when challenging leaders about the quality of education provided.”
But Mr Hussain Raza said that while the academy welcomed constructive feedback, there are many areas “evolving and continuing to improve”, including its governance.
“However, our policy is that we give more credence to the opinions of the NLEs, who are outstanding heads in other schools, and they have commented that our education plan is innovative, inspiring and highly academic,” he said.
“The progress of our students is outstanding and the work ethic exceptional. We have also been given national recognition for our character education programme.
“There is a large difference of opinion between the NLE from Challenge Partners, a national reputable organisation recommended by the DFE for school improvement and the opinion of an Ofsted inspector who came for little more than a day’s visit found it very difficult to understand our education methods, our homework programme, our teaching methods and our longer day.”
Coun Ralph Berry, Bradford Council’s executive member for education, said if the academy was a local authority school, he would make sure the recommendations of the report were acted on.
And he added the Council’s children’s services department’s door “would be open” if it needed assistance.
“This is about moving forward, making sure the children at the school are getting a good education and it is a situation that needs urgent attention,” he said.
“Each of the things raised in the report are quite challenging.”