Free schools fail Ofsted inspections at much higher rate than state schools

Writing in his column in the Guardian, Warwick Mansell presents an analysis that suggests the failure rate of new free schools in Ofsted inspections is running at three times the national average for state-funded schools and may be about to rise further…

Four free schools have been rated “inadequate” by the inspectorate, of the 41 that have had judgments published as of the end of last week. This is 9.7%. By contrast, the latest Ofsted data on all state schools shows only 3% are categorised as inadequate. Not a huge sample group, but these are not figures the government is going to be rushing out in any press release.

Another free school, not included in these figures, visited by Ofsted in February, has been placed in special measures, we understand. Staff were told of the unofficial judgment in mid-March, though the report remained unpublished as we went to press.

Overall, 79% of state schools are rated good or outstanding compared with only 68% of free schools, according to our analysis, based in part on figures provided by the Watchsted website. Last July, ministers promoted their free schools policy by boasting that three-quarters of the first 24 free schools were judged good or outstanding.

Two high-profile institutions, Bedford free school and Greenwich free school – co-founded by Jonathan Simons, the head of education at the thinktank Policy Exchange, and Tom Shinner, an adviser to Michael Gove who doubles as one of the Department for Education’s most senior civil servants – were recently found by Ofsted to require improvement…

More at: Free schools fail Ofsted inspections at much higher rate than state schools

Meaningful analysis of an emerging problem or too small sample size to show anything of significance? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Free Schools.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove If it were the other way around DfE would be flooding media with this news; fact is that sample too small to be significant

  2. Progress_HSE

    SchoolsImprove Free schools idea that non-professionals know more than professionals. Value comes from combining the two forms of…

  3. Kathfanderson

    SchoolsImprove So, it seems that being a suit with big ideas, no experience & a little knowledge isn’t quite enough.

  4. MarkPTrotter

    Kathfanderson SchoolsImprove the inspection process has many failings and the purpose of free schools was to release them from structure

  5. Kathfanderson

    MarkPTrotter “Freeing schools from structure” is a distraction. Excellent, inspiring, creative teaching happens within it. SchoolsImprove

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