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Free school slammed by Ofsted after refusing to enter any students for GCSEs

Posted on: 2018-10-29 16:00:00

The free school in north Devon was failed on every measure by Ofsted 
The free school in north Devon was failed on every measure by Ofsted 

Route 39 Academy in Higher Clovelly was the first free school in north Devon when it opened in 2013, but has now been failed on every measure by Ofsted.

The school said that its 15 and 16-year-old pupils “have made such inadequate progress” that they were on course to significantly underachieve in their GCSEs, but Ofsted said that holding back an entire year group from public examinations is potentially illegal, and “in breach of … the school’s funding agreement”.

The school counts award-winning children’s author Michael Morpurgo among its fellows, as well as Christina Woodroffe - a former senior official at the Department for Education and a former Ofsted inspector - as a governor.

Ofsted inspectors said that the Year 11 pupils were of above-average ability when they arrived aged 11, according to their Sats results, suggesting that the failure to prepare pupils for their GCSEs was the school’s fault.

The school was opened by local parents unhappy with the education offered in their local area. It aims eventually to have 700 students and a sixth form, but the year groups are currently very small, with only 13 pupils in Year 11.

The school has challenged the Ofsted report. Jordan Kelly, the head teacher, told The Times: “We strongly refute the judgement and the manner in which the inspection was handled. There was a disproportionate focus on our decision to enter 13 Year 11 students for GCSEs.”

The school showed weaknesses when first inspected in 2015, with Ofsted ruling that its quality of teaching and achievements of pupils “requires improvement”. Now, the school’s ratings have declined to ‘inadequate’ in every category.

Free schools are taxpayer-funded academies not controlled by a local education authority. They are usually set up by charities or religious groups. More than 400 free schools were approved between 2010 and 2015.


By Luke Mintz

Source: The Telegraph

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