Flagship profit making free school - special measures

(18 Posts)
mrz Tue 11-Mar-14 21:38:59
Icimoi Tue 11-Mar-14 21:44:12

This programme is just a disaster area, isn't it? I wonder how much money this school got off the government?

ipadquietly Tue 11-Mar-14 22:38:49

www.eadt.co.uk/news/west_suffolk_revealed_the_true_cost_of_free_schools_1_2966319

A drop in the ocean...

(At our school, we aren't allowed to buy any whiteboard pens until April because we have completely run out of money.)

pointythings Wed 12-Mar-14 09:40:26

I'm in the town next door and DD1 is in the local secondary. They've been having a steady flow of in-year transfers from this school - now we know why.

I feel sorry for the parents in the town, they were promised miracles and have been hugely let down.

creamteas Wed 12-Mar-14 17:26:37

I have some friends over from Sweden at the minute, and they have been saying how the for-profit chains are widely detested.

There is a growing protest to get rid of them on basis of the poorer Pisa tests results. Which is interesting given that Gove's argument for free schools is that it will raise results hmm

straggle Wed 12-Mar-14 17:38:18

It's interesting to look back at another Guardian article from two years ago where the IES UK Manager says: 'It is awful, but we kind of have to accept failure more than we do at the moment ... if there is an awful company out there, then they should be allowed to fail and then someone else can take over.'

It strikes me as weird that the company was obsessed with failure and takeover before it even started. So, who's taking this school over?

pointythings Thu 13-Mar-14 16:15:38

The OFSTED report is out. I've read it. OMG it's dire. The poor children and parents, I completely feel for them. sad

prh47bridge Thu 13-Mar-14 16:26:25

So, who's taking this school over?

The school does not belong to IES. Responsibility lies with the governors who chose to subcontract running the school to IES.

My understanding (which may be wrong - I'm not close to this situation) is that IES got there before Ofsted and appointed a new head who took up the role in late January. It remains to be seen whether she can turn things round.

straggle Thu 13-Mar-14 17:47:26

I think there was an interim, the chief operating officer of IES before this latest one. This blog suggests the trust was a nepotistic bunch of local politicians. And the LSN blog reports Private Eye which suggested the trust was merely a powerless conduit.

prh47bridge Thu 13-Mar-14 18:01:22

The trust certainly isn't powerless. The trustees are not appointed by IES. The trust is ultimately responsible for the school. They can get rid of IES if they want (and the DfE can get rid of the trust if Ofsted decide the school isn't making adequate progress). I don't know if the blogger is right that the trustees don't have the necessary skills to hold IES to account. If he is that is clearly a problem.

nlondondad Fri 14-Mar-14 10:05:15

Three questions that strike me:-

1. Who appoints the Trustees?

2. Surely whether they can end the contract depends on how the contract was written? One hopes that they got good, independent legal advice from a contract lawyer. (As indeed, you can be sure IES did.) One fears, as that expensive, that they may not.

3.If there is a legal dispute over the contract, where does the Trust get the money from to pay costs?

prh47bridge Fri 14-Mar-14 12:10:05

1. The trustees consist of the head, at least 2 governors elected by the parents, the staff governors (up to one third of the total governors), a governor appointed by the LA (if the LA chooses to appoint one) and governors appointed by the members of the trust. The members of the trust are the individuals who signed the Memorandum setting up the trust, the chairman of the governors, one person appointed by the Secretary of State (if the DfE choose to appoint someone) and anyone appointed unanimously by the existing members. It is not uncommon for a charity setup to be this incestuous. I am not suggesting this is a good thing.

2. They had more than enough startup funding to pay for the required legal advice. Their accounts don't contain any definitive statements about this but the lack of provision for future payments to IES strongly suggests that there is little or nothing in the way of ongoing commitments. The setup seems to be that the trust runs the school in legal terms (i.e. they employ the staff and pay all the costs of running the school) but pay IES a management fee (£35k last year) to manage the operation. To put this in context their funding from GAG and Pupil Premium came to about £1.2M last year.

3. From its funds. As at 31st August the trust had £420k in the bank.

AgaPanthers Fri 14-Mar-14 18:11:31

Wow, one of the worst reports I've seen.

www.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/files/2345693/urn/138250.pdf

"Teaching is inadequate. It does not expect enough of the students. The work set for students is based on an inaccurate understanding of what they can do. In some instances, for example in English, the standard of students’ work has declined since they started at the school."

"Behaviour is inadequate and disrupts 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 is ineffective. Improvement targets for individual teachers lack precision. Leaders rarely check whether teachers are making progress towards meeting their targets.

Governors have not ensured that the school meets requirements to keep children safe."

They only have 215 pupils and 15 teachers. It's not a large school. It is however very badly managed.

They use low-paid, inexperienced staff.

What an absolute shower. You'd think they'd at least wait a couple of years before running it into the ground. You know, run the place properly for a year or two so they don't look complete fuckwitted arsewipes, rather than plundering it right from the word go.

And this is a Swedish company? What the fuck do they know about education in the UK?

pointythings Fri 14-Mar-14 19:28:05

What's so sad is that IES Breckland is in a town that should have a secondary school. It's certainly big enough. The transition to two-tier in Suffolk was badly mishandled - but the well-intentioned parents who set up SABRES have been the ones let down by a predatory company only intent on a fast buck.

The county council has also been complicit - they have made real school choice very difficult by charging children from Brandon full whack at £110 a term for travel to MCA in Mildenhall because they weren't using their local school. There was one year of transition arrangements, but after that it was pay up or go local - and a lot of parents in the town couldn't afford that, it is a deprived town.

PiqueABoo Fri 14-Mar-14 19:58:52

"What the [bleep] do they know about education in the UK?"
--

Probably as little as Gove.

More than Truss.

prh47bridge Fri 14-Mar-14 20:16:42

My understanding is that IES detected the problems and moved in before Ofsted. I am told the inspection was one week before the new head was due to start. Figures from Sweden suggest this "predatory company only intent on a fast buck" runs schools that produce results substantially better than the national average. None of that, of course, means they will be able to make a success of Breckland. The test is whether they can turn it round.

nlondondad Fri 14-Mar-14 20:17:37

@prh47bridge thanks for your informative reply. I am right in thinking that the Trust members will always appoint a majority of the Governors?

prh47bridge Fri 14-Mar-14 23:59:30

They have the power to do so (barring the DfE stepping in and appointing governors) but they don't have to do so. They can appoint up to 20 governors but don't have to appoint any. There appear to be 12 governors at the moment. Of these 5 are either members of the trust or appear to be related to members of the trust. I presume these were appointed by the trust. It looks like they have one staff governor plus the principal. We know they have at least 2 parent governors. That leaves 3 unaccounted for. It is possible one of these is appointed by the LA but I haven't found any information to confirm that one way or the other. I don't think any of them are additional staff governors so that leaves parent governors and trustee appointments. I can't find anything that definitively tells me what they are. So at least 5 and possibly as many as 8 of the 12 current governors are appointed by the trust.

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