Mixed fortunes for free schools as inspectors find ‘outstanding’ and ‘inadequate’ standards

The TES is reporting that government officials have hailed news this week that the first secondary free school was judged “outstanding” by Ofsted, just days after yet another free school slumped into special measures…

In what has been both a good and bad news week for the free school programme, it was revealed on Tuesday that the Hartsbrook E-Act Free School in Tottenham, north London, was found to be “inadequate” across the board.

In their report, Ofsted’s inspectors said teachers “do not have high enough expectations” and that “far too many pupils consistently underachieve, especially boys and the most-able”.

“Attendance is inadequate. Systems to check that pupils are safe when they are absent from school are weak,” the report added…

Hartsbrook was one of 16 schools sponsored by E-Act that were inspected by Ofsted earlier in the year after inspectors swooped in to the schools during a two-week period.

The blitz led to E-Act being stripped of 10 of its schools – almost a third of its number – of which Hartsbrook was one. The Department for Education is currently looking for a new sponsor to take over the running of the school, although E-Act will continue to work with the school on an improvement plan.

E-Act’s recently appointed chief executive David Moran admitted the standards in too many of the sponsor’s academies were “not acceptable”.

The news was followed by today’s announcement that Dixon’s Academy in Bradford, West Yorkshire, became the first secondary free school to be handed an “outstanding” judgement by Ofsted.

Other high-profile secondary free schools, including the West London Free School, established by author and journalist Toby Young, have previously been praised for their provision, but none has secured the top rating overall…

More at: Mixed fortunes for free schools as inspectors find ‘outstanding’ and ‘inadequate’ standards

Here’s a report from the Yorkshire Post on Dixons Academy’s outstanding rating: Free school praised for top Ofsted rating

Not sure we can learn too much other than it appears there is a broad spectrum of free schools just as there is with all other types of school. Anything you can add? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Free Schools.


  1. Janet2

    According to the Yorkshire Post, the school said the judgement “flies in the face of the negative news about free schools.”

    I’m sure the school didn’t mean to suggest that its outstanding verdict wipes out unacceptable goings-on at other free schools.  

    The Ofsted report for Dixons Trinity is not yet on Ofsted’s website yet Lord Nash  has pre-empted publication by commented on the “Outstanding” judgement in the Lords (25 March 2014):


    In the meantime, parents of pupils at Oldfield school are forbidden to discuss the leaked Ofsted report about Oldfield school because it’s not officially been published.  


  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove So free schools are a mixed bunch just like other schools, only a lot more expensive to set up. The policy’s been rumbled

  3. Organic_Jane

    SchoolsImprove Just out of interest does anyone know what average per pupil funding is for Free Schools? (annual income not capital set up)

  4. ShirleyCarpent6

    No takers for sponsorship of inadequate free schools? How about LAs – plenty of experience in running and supporting schools …

  5. jillybean2009

    Organic_Jane SchoolsImprove i don’t think DfE too keen to share that… Bit like finding needle in a hay stack.

  6. Organic_Jane

    jillybean2009 SchoolsImprove I feel an FoI request coming on. They need to account for taxpayers money.

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