11 Mar 2014

Free school called ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted

Home Affairs Correspondent

A flagship free school is expected to be put into special measures after inspectors called it “inadequate”.

Channel 4 News has seen some of the weaknesses identified by the Ofsted inspectors. They found that too many students at IES Breckland failed to make sufficient progress and they did not attain the standards of which they were capable.

Teaching was found to be inadequate and the school was not expecting enough of the students. The inspectors said that the work set for students was based on an inaccurate understanding of what they could do. In some instances, for example in English, the standard of students’ work had declined since they started at the school.

The inspectors also found that too many students have experienced frequent changes of teacher. In autumn 2013, the departure of some key staff, including the principal, seriously disrupted the education provided by the school.

Ofsted said that behaviour was inadequate and disrupted some lessons. Students, parents and staff all expressed concern about misbehaviour.

The school’s own evaluation of the quality of teaching and student achievement is inaccurate. The school has not been able to improve because school leaders have not assessed the school’s performance adequately or devised strategies to improve it.

The management of teachers’ performance was reported to be ineffective. Improvement targets for individual teachers lacked precision and leaders rarely checked whether teachers were making progress towards meeting their targets, the inspectors said.

They added that governors have not ensured that the school meets requirements to keep children safe. And they said that, while the governors have been inquisitive, they have been insufficiently challenging. They did not know how well the school is doing, the inspectors said.

But they found some strengths. Standards in mathematics were found to be generally high. Some teaching was reportedly outstanding, which helped a few students to make exceptional progress.

And the inspectors said that the quality of the school’s provision for students’ spiritual and cultural education was good.