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Free school staff must take note
It seems that the Government’s pioneering policy of free schools has, at the very least, experienced a few teething problems, particularly in the Bradford district.
Coming on the back of the fiasco around the failure of the One in a Million school to open as planned in September comes news that the district’s first free school the King’s Science Academy, has been told it needs to make improvements in all areas by Ofsted.
Described as a flagship school by education secretary Michael Gove, inspectors said the academy needed to improve achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour of pupils, and leadership and management.
Although the principal contends that inspectors found it difficult to understand their teaching methods in little more than a day’s visit, it is far from the report those behind the school and the supporters of the idea of free schools would have wanted to see.
Right from the start, there have been concerns that schools opting out of the umbrella of the education authority might not come up to scratch as educational establishments.
This Ofsted report will not help to allay these concerns.
Bradford Council is making the right noises, and says its children’s services department’s doors are open if the school needs assistance.
However, having to rely on education authority support would go against many of the ideas of a free school. And it is very early days – the success or failure of a school and of the policy should not be judged on one Ofsted report.
The most important thing going forward is the education of pupils, and all concerned need to work together to ensure that the appropriate standard is maintained at all free schools.