Ofsted and “free” schools.

By Jane Eades

Ofsted Reports on “Free” Schools opened in 2011/12

“Governance is inadequate”

Of the 79 “free” schools opened in 2011/12 only 11 have Ofsted Reports recorded.  Given the following, there can be no confidence:

  • That “Free” schools will improve education
  • That “Free” schools are new schools open in response to local demand or need
  • That “Free” schools have a fair intake
  • That “Free” schools will give good value for money


Given the poor showing of some of the “free” schools, it is rather surprising that 14 of the 24 “free” schools opened in 2011 appear not to have been visited by Ofsted.  This is especially so in the case of the Kings Science Academy which received over £10 million of Government funding.


The gradings of these compared to the national figures are as follows:


Outstanding          Good           Satisfactory     Inadequate

England LEA              19%                  54%                  24%                   3%

“Free”                             0%                   64%                  27%                   9%


Four of these schools were existing schools, despite the claims that “free” schools are new schools established in response to a demand by parents.


  • Two of those schools were previously independent schools.
  • One school was previously rated outstanding and in 2013, in its “free” school status, was rated as only satisfactory
  • The report of one given a satisfactory grading notes: “The local authority continues to give very good support despite having no formal responsibility for the Free School.”
  • One “Free” school is recorded as having no statemented students and none on free school meals.  At least 5 others record below average numbers of SEN pupils or those on FSM.
  • The report on the “Free” school deemed to be merely satisfactory notes: “The headteacher lacks the skills and knowledge to improve teaching” and “Governance is inadequate”.
  • One “free” school was created by the Harris Federation, replacing a primary school which had been in special measures but had worked its way out of the category.
  • The report of one (an E-Act school) recorded that it had surplus places.



National Ofsted ratings: http://dataview.ofsted.gov.uk/

Edubase: http://www.education.gov.uk/edubase/search.xhtml?page=

Ofsted:  http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report

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