Al Madinah school ofsted report

(94 Posts)
hillian Thu 17-Oct-13 08:45:39

Has anyone seen this report? It says they don't even know who is disabled or which children aren't in school on a particular day!
www.theguardian.com/education/interactive/2013/oct/16/oftsed-report-on-al-madinah-school-derby

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 09:31:21

It's shocking - the report says it is a dysfunctional school in chaos, with an ineffective governing body letting down the community, no admin or accounting systems, inexperienced and untrained staff - many of which have never taught before and all paid on different rates despite being in comparable roles.

How did it ever get approved? How come it was visited by the DfE in November 2012 and a whole year has passed since then? It's the second free school in special measures and again it's all about ineffective governance and untrained staff.

eggyweggies Thu 17-Oct-13 09:55:09

Absolutely appalling.

tiffinboys Thu 17-Oct-13 11:16:19

I think that there should be no new faith school and the existing ones should be abolished over time. Very divisive and doesn't help in creating one nation.

tiffinboys Thu 17-Oct-13 11:17:53

Even existing faith schools should be open up for the wider community. Majority of places should be given on non-faith basis criteria - distance for example.

hillian Thu 17-Oct-13 11:51:07

Do you think this is a faith school issue? I tend to think its what you get when a closed group gets together and makes decisions about how to educate children without buying in appropriate support.

tiffinboys Thu 17-Oct-13 12:04:48

Perhaps this group would not have initiated such a project, if it was not based on faith. They should be required to appoint qualified staff and open up admissions to the wider community. faith based teaching can be done out of school hour, as all schools basically have to follow national curriculum.

tiffinboys Thu 17-Oct-13 12:07:07

Other than that, the dress code and such matters should be left to the governors to decide. Wearing scarf or not is matter for school to decide; Ofstead emphasize should be on quality of education and children safety.

titchy Thu 17-Oct-13 12:17:40
ErrolTheDragon Thu 17-Oct-13 12:25:32

The issues could affect other 'free' schools, but in this case being a faith school seems relevant - it is noticeable that the areas where they do well are related to Islamic studies. That suggests that this is seen as the priority and so other subjects tend to be relatively undervalued.

HavantGuard Thu 17-Oct-13 12:30:26

This is a free school issue. Any group can set up a school and start taking on pupils. They don't have to have experience running a school. Those teaching don't have to be teachers!

All Mr. Gove's work.

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 12:40:42

It's two issues together! New faith schools that are part of existing networks, with their own inspectors and standards, getting 100% state funding, and the free school policy in general which allows unqualified teachers, irregular financial practices (I read that some contracts were awarded to family members of governors but can't find the link) and incompetent governance. With no local oversight.

All Gove's fault, I agree.

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 12:45:17

sorry, 'New faith schools that are not part of existing networks'

noblegiraffe Thu 17-Oct-13 12:51:54

Fucking hell, that's awful.

Yes Gove, this is exactly what to expect when people with no experience in education are allowed to set up schools and hire unqualified teachers.

How has it taken this long to come to light? Shouldn't Free Schools be monitored to hell and back in their opening to make sure the basics like taking a bloody register are in place?

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 13:05:07

Was reported in Sunday Times that there was a £95,000 payment made to an organisation employing relatives of some of the Governors. It got 1.4 million in start-up funding up to the end of its first year.

It was inspected in November 2012 by the DfE. Maybe that's why the first headteacher left. The report says they had no principal at all for several weeks.

Inertia Thu 17-Oct-13 13:06:08

This is what Gove wants for all our children. The government wants to increase the number of Free Schools, operated and staffed by people with no relevant training or experience who can make up their own curriculum.

Whatever problems exist with state LA-led education, there is no issue that is best solved by abandoning all safeguarding procedures, SEN provision , curricula, and training/ qualification requirements ; and then hoping that the shining light of capitalism (and a bit of religion in some cases) will lead the way.

Inertia Thu 17-Oct-13 13:09:53

In fact the only surprise is that OFSTED were allowed to be this honest, given the Government's manipulation of OFSTED procedures to produce outcomes which best suit the Government's agenda of increased free schools/ enforced academies/ backdoor privatisation.

maybe OFSTED are't as useless as we all thought then wink

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 13:19:44

Lends some context to the teachers' strike, doesn't it?

'It is unclear why staff carrying out comparable roles are paid at different rates.'

noblegiraffe Thu 17-Oct-13 13:23:44

Yes, I don't think any teacher would have a problem with Ofsted being needed in this particular instance.

I read someone saying that Ofsted should be more like restaurant inspectors, sweeping in and checking that things are being done properly (like in this instance) rather than behaving like food critics who think they can objectively distinguish between tasty and delicious.

Greythorne Thu 17-Oct-13 16:20:54

Utterly shocking

Talkinpeace Thu 17-Oct-13 16:24:29

tiffinboys
Other than that, the dress code and such matters should be left to the governors to decide.
Sorry?
Why should a non Muslim teacher be forced to wear a Muslim headscarf?

figroll Thu 17-Oct-13 17:31:28

I have just read this Ofsted report and I am absolutely outraged by it. Why is this school being allowed to stay open? It should be closed immediately and the children sent to schools where they can get a fair and balanced education. It is such a backwards step to have schools such as this in existence.

aroomofherown Thu 17-Oct-13 17:40:35

It's just so ironic that this comes out just as one of the reasons teachers are striking is that Gove allows non-qualified teachers to be employed.

Is anyone surprised?

Ofsted recommends training for teachers in this school for even the basics, like using data to inform planning and using assessment criteria in a standardised way. They don't mark effectively either. Why should they be able to, if a qualification isn't required? Where were they supposed to learn this - on the job and so wasting valuable education time?

Massive fail.

BoffinMum Thu 17-Oct-13 17:46:31

I think some parents with children at this school must have had their eyes off the ball BIG TIME if all this was going on under their noses and they didn't realise.

figroll Thu 17-Oct-13 17:50:23

These children have already wasted 12 months and presumably will waste more time whilst the school attempts to improve. I am thankful that my children have both left school as the constant political and ideological meddling from politicians has now taken a turn for the worse. Politics (and in my own opinion, religion) should be kept out of schools. It's just wrong on all counts. Gove is just trying to make his mark and leave a legacy: goodness knows what he is going to be remembered for. The dismantling of education as we know it.

ShadeofViolet Thu 17-Oct-13 17:53:11

not a good day for free schools

You wouldn't want an unqualified person performing an operation on you, so why would you want one teaching your child?

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 17:55:50

This makes me angry: David Laws in parliament claims concerns were raised in the summer. But it was visited by the DfE in November 2012. The governors, untrained staff and dysfunction has been going on since it opened. At the DfE they have been trying to cover it up and avoiding responsibility. Gove is 'abroad'. They haven't even commented on Discovery New School in special measures.

aroomofherown Thu 17-Oct-13 17:58:40

Because apparently there is no skill or knowledge of pedagogy required to teach, unlike a knowledge of anatomy for surgery.

Anyone can do it, and do it well, non?

Gah I'm just so fed up with the Gove-enment's constant degradation of teachers, when stories like this prove just how bad things could be without training and expertise.

figroll Thu 17-Oct-13 18:02:21

I am sick of hearing how teachers go home at 3 and have 14 weeks holiday. If it's so easy, why aren't they queuing up at the door to be teachers. It's an incredibly difficult job And I have admired the commitment shown by staff at my children's schools over the years. I took it for granted that they were all qualified.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 17-Oct-13 18:32:13

> think some parents with children at this school must have had their eyes off the ball BIG TIME if all this was going on under their noses and they didn't realise.

I heard a couple being interviewed, they seemed happy with the school. Heretical idea, but maybe parents aren't necessarily the best people to judge educational standards.

Talkinpeace Thu 17-Oct-13 18:54:00

Most of the parents at that school did not WANT a UK education : that is why they set it up.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 17-Oct-13 19:12:46

>Most of the parents at that school did not WANT a UK education : that is why they set it up

Which was not fair on their children, most/all of whom are UK citizens.

Still, glad to see that evidently 'free schools' don't have a carte blanche to ignore basic educational standards - to some extent he who pays the piper does call the tune.

merrymouse Thu 17-Oct-13 19:29:09

I think a lot of people can educate without qualifications in the same way that you can be a good gardener with no horticultural training and you can open a new shop without retail training and be a good cook with no catering training. However, you would not be able to run kew gardens or a branch of John lewis or a chain of restaurants.

It's one thing being open minded about education, quite another not having the checks in place to know whether what is being provided is fit for purpose/meets basic standards.

Are we massively surprised though? This will probably come across as prejudiced but here goes....really what did we expect faith schools to be like?
In the mean time it's so insulting- the uk has an amazing state school system - not perfect but still probably one of the best in the world and yet out government is busily thieving our money away to, frankly fundamentalists and allowing whole communities to opt out of the school system - and paying them for the privilege.

alemci Thu 17-Oct-13 19:47:31

c of e schools are not like this. they are inclusive and follow the curriculum as do other religious schools such as a Sikh school in the area

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 19:48:19

Some people think they can teach without ever having having set foot in a classroom. Some people think they can learn a language in their sleep. They're wrong. It takes practice and support. That's why you get teaching practice on teacher training courses and supervision as a newly qualified teacher. That's why Annaliese Briggs gave up after four weeks.

Alemci - yeh I agree - I didn't want to single out Islamic schools and sound really prejudiced but mostly that's what I meant hmm

alemci Thu 17-Oct-13 19:56:39

tricky but often the c of e ones include other faiths. in theory does this school offer this?

caroldecker Thu 17-Oct-13 19:59:43

Most independent schools have non-qualified teachers. It is how they are managed/supported that matters, not the letters after their name.
Agree this is appalling, but there are many local authority schools which are failing/in special measures.
You cannot judge either free schools or faith schools on 1 example.

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 20:03:55

The Discovery Free School (also in special measures) 'has a Christian character in the Anglican tradition (Church of England)'. But it is not supported/sponsored by a Christian diocese, or more importantly an education service which obviously has expertise in running schools and its own inspectors. Neither is Al-Madinah.

I'd be very interested to see the stats on the percentage of independent schools employing non-qualified teachers, carol

Certainly not the case in the four schools at which I've taught, or the ones at which my PGCE peers teach/have taught.

eggyweggies Thu 17-Oct-13 20:20:49

Great post, merrymouse

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 20:21:22

It is not supported by a local authority either, also with a big support service and inspectors - who also support the vast majority of CofE and RC schools because they are maintained schools.

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 20:25:27

Some of the unqualified teachers in independent schools have teacher training qualifications - just not a degree, especially at primary level if they are aged 55 or over.

caroldecker Thu 17-Oct-13 20:29:30

awesome

No stats on independent schools, sorry but article here suggests it's common.

Interestingly the current govt has reduced the number of unqualified teachers in local authority schools here

alemci Thu 17-Oct-13 20:30:46

True Straggle about private schools. I looked at the christian school and it seem quite inclusive and to me the ethos seemed quite sound.

i agree they need to have the same inspectors as the state schools if they are funded by government money. slightly different in the private sector

there was a shocking article about one teacher who worked in the al-madinah school who was British and was criticised for not dressing modestly enough.

Does this school have a website or has it been shut down?

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 20:41:13

caroldecker I found the same article as you trying to find stats! But it says 'although ... the majority of new teachers enter the independent sector with QTS, as recently trained newly qualified teachers (NQTs), some schools employ up to five non-QTS teachers at a time'. Five wouldn't be a lot in a teaching staff of 40. The reason many of those with QTS are not technically qualified to switch to a state school is because independent schools do not offer a formal probationary year after their initial teacher training. Unlike at Al-Madinah they have spent time in a classroom though.

But the 'number of qualified teachers reducing' was analysed by fullfact:

'While it's true to say that teacher numbers have dropped since 2010, there isn't enough evidence to show that the number of qualified teachers has decreased. In fact, the School Workforce data suggests that the proportion of teachers considered 'qualified' has increased.'

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 20:46:27

alemci the 'Christian ethos school' is another free school in special measures that follows a Montessori method. Another experiment. Ofsted report here.

Discolite Thu 17-Oct-13 20:47:53

Free schools are a disaster. At their worst they provide school places in areas that already have a surplus, wasting public money. They can be housed in totally unsuitable premises, employ people who are not teachers and have no relevant experience (see the Pimlico free school head - a 27 year old with no teaching experience is a fit person to be a teacher?!), they can cost millions to set up...

The things that really caught my eye was that the Al Madinah school had no real idea about which pupils had SEN, never mind do anything to cater for them. Its accounts were in chaos - it didn't even know if it was carrying forward a surplus or a deficit - don't forget this is public money! And it seems like it had no clue which pupils were in school on any given day, making issues like safeguarding very difficult.

But yes Mr Gove, anyone can set up and run a school! I'd be jubilant over yet another policy falling on its arse but unfortunately it seems 412 children were not educated properly and even worse, put at risk because of Tory free market principles.

alemci Thu 17-Oct-13 20:50:43

Thanks

I did realise that but felt that it's web page was well presented and I liked the way it was inclusive.

Do you think it is better not to have free schools as they seem a bit dodgy?

I don't think I would want to enroll my dc's in one (Glad they are alot older)

bronya Thu 17-Oct-13 21:03:18

Wow - they actually CLOSED the school after day 1 of the report, until it was deemed safe to re-open!

Hulababy Thu 17-Oct-13 21:03:18

caroldecker - NONE of the independent schools round here employ unqualified teachers! All have teaching qualifications. Some may also use outside providers for things like sport or specialist music, but ime so do state schools - and all this is fine, providing the people involved have appropriate qualifications in their area of expertise. In each of the independents round here the qualifications of the employed teaching staff, and often the non teaching staff, are issued on the website and/or with the school prospectus.

It is a big myth that most independents have an army on non qualified teachers. Do you really think that parents who are paying out a lot of money would really put up with staff who were not properly trained and qualified? Really?!

merrymouse Thu 17-Oct-13 21:04:29

The difference with independent schools is that the parents foot the bill and they have no obligation to meet any kind of need except perhaps market forces.

State schools need to do alot more and that is why new state schools (as in schools funded by the state) should only be opened if they can meet strict criteria and should be checked regularly in their first years. This school should never have opened.

bronya Thu 17-Oct-13 21:05:00

Wow - they actually CLOSED the school after day 1 of the report, until it was deemed safe to re-open!

ErrolTheDragon Thu 17-Oct-13 21:07:59

>Do you think it is better not to have free schools as they seem a bit dodgy?

I just don't get them. Seems like they're very likely to be set up by some group who has a particular agenda but who may not be as sound educationally as they'd probably like to think.

I don't recall any unqualified teachers at the independent school I went to .

I think the faith schools piss all over British children having a right to a basic standard of education. I think state education should be secular :-(

ErrolTheDragon Thu 17-Oct-13 21:09:07

>Wow - they actually CLOSED the school after day 1 of the report, until it was deemed safe to re-open!
yes - I read that it was because some of the staff weren't CRB checked (or whatever its called now).

Talkinpeace Thu 17-Oct-13 21:09:27

In a Private (fee paying) school, parents have choice - they can always as a last resort go back to the state school in their area.

THe parents without those resources (both financial and intellectual) have to hope to billyoh that the state will give their bright children the chances they deserve.
So far it has failed www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24551446
and nothing in idiot Gove's policies will change that

DameFanny Thu 17-Oct-13 21:15:14

I'm guessing our local free school - Norwich - is in the minority.

I was pretty impressed with its ethos though - it prioritises looked after children for intake, and open extended hours and days to make things easier for lone parents.

I suspect it's not the sort of thing Toby Young would approve of...

merrymouse Thu 17-Oct-13 21:19:18

I think that if the checks are in place and the free school meets a need rather than just providing a school that somebody would like to run, there isn't a problem.

However, looking at some notable failures so far, this doesn't seem to be the case, and I am not convinced that it will be.

MrsJamin Thu 17-Oct-13 21:21:07

Most free schools are not dodgy! My DSs are going to be going to one in a few years' time and all the parents are over the moon with how much their children love learning there.

The year 2 teacher must be feeling a bit odd as the only one not providing inadequate teaching. It is very odd to have such an appalling school and no LA input.

Talkinpeace Thu 17-Oct-13 21:24:40

breatheslowly
It is very odd to have such an appalling school and no LA input.
Get used to it.
nearly 2/3 of secondary schools now have no LEA input - because they are Academies

tasteslikechicken Thu 17-Oct-13 21:32:46

I think the reactions are directly linked to how this particular school has been identified in the media. Clearly they are not anywhere near where they need to be, and may never get there, however, do people not realise that near on 25% of state schools are currently rated as inadequate. How many children does that affect?

Also, approx 33% of social services with responsibility for safeguarding children are also rated inadequate.

I listened to an interview on R4 today with an education columnist who was banging on about free schools not having qualifications, the unsaid bit being if schools are staffed with qualified teachers then they won't fail. Clearly 25% of state schools being rated inadequate doesn't support that view.

merrymouse Thu 17-Oct-13 21:34:34

I think all new schools have to be free schools/academies now, so some free schools are being set up by partnerships that include LA's and other people who should know what they are doing.

I know of at least one school where the funding was approved under labour (community comprehensive on basis of obvious need for additional school places), withdrawn under coalition and then approved as long as the school is set up as a free school.

I think most free school applications come from organisations in the businesss of running schools, not local groups now? I am not sure how this differs greatly from academies under labour.

The thing that seems to be missing is appropriate checks that people proposing to run free schools know what they are doing, and in the absence of those checks, close enough supervision by the people paying the bill.

joanofarchitrave Thu 17-Oct-13 21:36:15

grin Yes, I thought that about the year 2 teacher breatheslowly - s/he could be in a Bateman cartoon - 'the teacher who was branded "adequate" by Ofsted'

nextyearitsbigschool Thu 17-Oct-13 21:40:53

http://jotter2.files.s3.amazonaws.com/377853?response-content-disposition=attachment;filename=ofsted-report-february-2013.pdf&response-content-type=application/pdf&AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIHZDCFOYSEK3PO3Q&Expires=1382045042&Signature=Ut0JudID%2F0kzFh3QX7emPemqIYA%3D

This is a faith free school. The Ofsted is good and it's getting an excellent reputation - it's not at all dodgy.

merrymouse Thu 17-Oct-13 21:41:38

It's one thing having an existing school fail, quite another funding a totally new school and then going back after a year to find that it's a bit rubbish.

I know my boiler is a bit rubbish. However, if I buy a new one and it immediately breaks down, I'm not going to be reassured by the fact that other people also have rubbish boilers.

Tasteslikechicken - I'm not sure where you are getting 25% being inadequate from, but I doubt that many of those schools are inadequate across all categories.

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 22:15:04

'do people not realise that near on 25% of state schools are currently rated as inadequate'

No, because they aren't. 3% of all schools are judged inadequate (see dataview). 9% of sponsored academies, the government's great panacea for improvement, are inadequate.

Meanwhile if the 19% judged 'satisfactory' (now 'needs to improve') were independent schools they would be called 'sound' (see Local Schools Network post).

Bgsh Thu 17-Oct-13 22:17:01

Free schools do not have to follow the national curriculum, neither do academies, all part of Gove's wish to be able to label state schools as a discrete group.

tribpot Thu 17-Oct-13 22:19:15

Surely this is not a school that is failing. It has failed.

I notice that the students are segregated by sex at lunchtime because of a lack of space. Because age, of course, would have been a ludicrous way to segregate the children.

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 22:21:00

Bgsh but they have to enter primary children for SATs. Which the Maharishi Free School forgot to do last year.

And they all do GCSEs and publish full information in the league tables.

Hulababy Thu 17-Oct-13 22:29:43

Where on earth are you getting the stats for re 25% f state schools are inadequate???

Looking at OFSTED's ow figres:

Primary
Outstanding - 18%
Good - 60%
Satisfactory/Requires Improvement - 19%
Inadequate - 2% (that is 400 schools out of 16,431)

Secondary
Outstanding - 24%
Good - 48%
Satisfactory/Requires Improvement - 24%
Inadequate - 5% (that is 140 schools out of 3,106)

Hulababy Thu 17-Oct-13 22:31:49

Infact f you break that down further, of all the different types of providers - the group with the worst number of "inadequate" ratings is sponsor-led Academies (ie the ones forced into it) - figure is 9%, so still no where near 25%.

straggle Thu 17-Oct-13 22:34:35

Well, seeing as Michael Gove is abroad today and ducking questions, David Cameron has stepped in to say the school might be closed sooner rather than later.

www.theguardian.com/education/2013/oct/17/al-madinah-free-school-faces-closure-government

ErrolTheDragon Thu 17-Oct-13 22:41:17

>Where on earth are you getting the stats for re 25% f state schools are inadequate???

I suspect she was lumping in the 'satisfactory/requires improvement'. hmm

LittleSiouxieSue Thu 17-Oct-13 23:00:37

The BBC said it was about 3% of state schools which are currently judged inadequate. I think this sounds realistic. It is interesting that at the time of inspection this school had over 400 pupils. It appears that some people will choose a religious education and ethos above all other aspects of education. Someone asked why the parents did not notice there was something wrong, but the parents are not in a position to judge how well lessons are taught and, they have left other schools to join this one. They have positively chosen this school, very big warts and all, and are in the main staying with their choice although some have left. Incidentally, it is open to all faiths or none, or it would not have been funded, but who on earth would send their child to this school if they were not Muslim? It will be interesting to see where the children go if it is closed down. It will be extraordinarily difficult for the children. It is about time free schools had to have qualified staff, the same as everyone else. The unqualified head in Pimlico had to go and so should anyone else who is incapable or not qualified.

caroldecker Fri 18-Oct-13 01:12:31

agreed incapable staff should go, but that means qualified or not - who on this thread agrees we should sack all teachers (qualified or not) rated as inadequate?

With respect to parents opinions on the school, three parents were interviewed on R4 today. Two stated that they were happy with the education their children were getting. The third seemed less complacent, but stated that all the other local schools were either rated Poor or Inadequate - implying that choosing one inadequate school over another is Hobson's Choice.

I don't know about the quality of other schools in the area - but it did seem as though at least one articulate sounding parent felt that there simply wasn't a better quality of education available to aspire to.

straggle Fri 18-Oct-13 07:31:02

Check dataview.ofsted.gov.uk/. 6% of primary schools were rated inadequate in Derby. But no secondary schools. Those with children still at the school may prefer it for reasons other than academic results or Ofsted ratings or they are unaware of what goes on in a school. There are many private schools in which Ofsted finds failings too but parents have even been prepared to pay for them despite serious health and safety issues. After urgent inspections many of these close too.

merrymouse Fri 18-Oct-13 10:01:56

The thing is, even assuming there are inadequate schools I derby, wouldn't you want to be spending millions on making sure you had adequate schools, not just open another inadequate school?

merrymouse Fri 18-Oct-13 10:02:31

in derby

tasteslikechicken Fri 18-Oct-13 13:29:30

Sorry my figure re 25% was taken from the radio interview, happy to be corrected and sorry for misinformation.

Nonetheless my point remains valid I think. A total of 540 schools across both Primary and Secondary schools are rated as inadequate.I'm not interested if they are not rated inadequate across every area or not, the point is they have all failed in key areas that automatically attract an inadequate rating.

I don't know how these figures translate to pupil numbers, but I'm guessing a goof few thousand.

So why are there not front line headlines regarding 540 schools currently rated inadequate, but we see huge interest in this single one.

By definition they have been singled out, Ofsted has leaked the report-(what does that say about their leadership and management culture),
tbh I think there is something troubling about this and whilst the school has been "caught bang to rights" there is still the question of why this school has been singled out, whilst another 540 have not.

I know where my suspicions are going.

Finally, clearly I have shown myself to be not very good at statistics, but surely 5% of 3,106 is approx. 155, not 140. And 2% 0f 16,431 is approx. 328, not 400. Do the percentage figures quoted by Hulababy refer to the percentage of children affected by these ratings, that would then take account of different school sizes.

Hulababy Fri 18-Oct-13 16:56:07

The actual numbers came from the OFSTED pages, not my own calculations.

The %ages are number of schools, not number of pupils.

straggle Fri 18-Oct-13 17:04:51

Maybe you were reading the Telegraph article which cautions that this is only one school and that among other state schools 'a quarter are underperforming'. But there were some good comments below which point out:

- there are two schools in special measures out of about 25 inspected
- they are no better than existing state schools although this is a statistically small sample seeing as less than a quarter have been inspected
- the catastrophic failure at this school is indicative of the risks of a system where there is no safety net, no LA to guide them, not even an academy chain, and of having unqualified teachers on top of this
- there is now no other way of setting up a new school which compounds that risk across the system - though Michael Wilshaw wants LAs to be accountable for standards

I'd add another point: how many private schools have been shut down because they are inadequate? How many are 'less than good' (e.g. 'satisfactory') whether judged by ISC or Ofsted? Because I can't find those figures easily. Yet I know there is concern in the private sector too about underperforming schools. In the state sector, however, blithely allowing the market to decide whether they stay open or not is bad value for money and creates a lot of harm for which our democratically elected representatives are directly accountable (but they are hiding, or abroad).

LittleSiouxieSue Fri 18-Oct-13 17:59:10

It is interesting to find that where schools are inadequate parents will still rate the school as good and think their children are learning effectively. Sadly they have little or no benchmarks for their opinions and their comments should be taken with a great deal of scepticism, unfortunately. If you choose a school because of a particular ethos, and the other schools do not match this, you tend to stay through thick and thin because you do not look objectively for all the indicators of a good school. Incidentally Ofsted do not have 'poor' and 'inadequate' judgements so this cannot be the situation facing parents in Derby. A school in The category of 'requires improvement' would be better so long as the leadership and governance was in place to effect the required improvement. Definitely better than going to a school now facing closure. The vast majority of all schools, state or independent, employ qualified teachers. A very small minority of people teaching are unqualified. Some of these people will be brilliant but in free schools there appears to be a belief that inexperienced or unqualified teachers can be employed en masse but this is not the model followed by any other type of school. When you have ineffective governance, turbulent leadership and inexperienced staff it is likely there will be problems. Ofsted reports are discussed with schools before release to parents and the public so there are plenty of opportunities for leaks along the way. I think Ofsted has stood up for the children here and this is to be applauded. It would have been better value for money to improve the existing schools but that would not be Gove's policy so over 400 children suffer. What a mess!

BoffinMum Fri 18-Oct-13 18:30:35

It is technically possibly to set up a new school under the auspices of the LA, but these tend to be ones that have been planned historically. For example, in the South Cambridgeshire fringe area we have just opened a new primary school and another one is in the pipeline, linked in to a very large housing development. But as I say, these were already planned, and closely linked to existing Local Authority schools.

I think nobody will be surprised that a Free School has failed - it would be odd if one of them hadn't, as independent schools fail all the time in what can be an aggressive market. But one thing is crystal clear from all this, and that is that Local Authorities need to retain at least enough residual power and financial clout to be able to help any children left without places when another school closes, or if there is a school fire, for example. (Many free schools seem to be on sites where there wouldn't be sufficient room for portacabins as replacement temporary classrooms, in such a circumstance). At the moment we are in a position where local authorities have a legal responsibility to find or make school places for all the children in the local area, and little means with which that can be properly planned or achieved. This is where the policy has failed most badly.

Another confusion in policy terms is defining what type of person can act as a teacher if they have no teaching qualifications. The independent sector is often cited here as an example of how people without teaching qualifications can be perfectly good teachers. I think this is a poor example. In the independent sector, the intake is a lot more homogeneous, and classes smaller, which makes it easier to teach than a diverse class with greater numbers of pupils. There is also what we call adverse selection, in that many kids with serious SEN, or kids who are difficult to teach, are frequently screened out during the admissions process by dissuading the parents from applying, applying an entrance test, or by the fees/uniforms/extras bills being too expensive, once again making the classroom teacher's job easier. Finally the independent sector does actually provide its own teacher training for new entrants, and lots of professional development, via the Independent Schools Council (I believe) plus there is usually a critical mass of experienced teachers with PGCEs or BEds to provide direction and focus, or mentoring. So people are not going into it completely blind. They have often volunteered in a school for a year or two, or worked as an assistant, before actually teaching. So whilst they may not have qualified teacher status, they aren't exactly ingenues, unlike those people who seem to have been employed in Derby.

Ultimately we need to be a lot clearer about what constitutes basic standards, and get Ofsted in a lot quicker and more frequently to inspect new schools of all types, when the danger is at its greatest.

However I am left with a distrust of Free Schools and chain Academies in their current form, due to a lack of clarity about my children's rights in various situations, and consequently I am putting my own children into Local Authority schools, or standalone academies, as I feel the product on offer is more reliable.

merrymouse Sat 19-Oct-13 10:42:37

Boffin, a private school failing because it can't get enough pupils and therefore can't get an income is different to a school with an income from the state failing to meet basic standards.

There is nothing to stop me setting up a private school tomorrow which is absolutely rubbish with no pupils, and the only thing that would suffer would be my bank balance. There should be something to stop me setting up a rubbish free school.

BoffinMum Sat 19-Oct-13 10:50:52

True. If people had to personally underwrite the costs of Free Schools I think there would be fewer cranky ones. At the moment there is every opportunity to amortise the risk but keep any profits for yourself (directly or indirectly).

Same for academy chains. All that lovely money for business people and their self-congratulatory foundations, but the taxpayer gets little transparency and ultimately carries the can if it all goes wrong.

Like the banks.

BoffinMum Sat 19-Oct-13 10:53:28

I think in relation to parents trying to hang on to schools that are clearly rubbish, they have a vested interest in defending their own choices so they don't lose face. There's also usually a degree of groupthink.

rabbitstew Sat 19-Oct-13 11:18:59

Our LA has a publicly stated policy of aiming for all LA schools ultimately to become academies and has consequently made most of its staff redundant, or pushed them out to become private consultants (along with a lot of new "consultants" who have very little experience in school improvement, but who offer themselves up, nonetheless...). Even if you are a LA school these days, you don't get the support unless you are failing - in which case they support you all the way to forced academy status... So, there are lots of LA "good" and "outstanding" schools that, for all the LA knows, could be quietly falling apart, with no Ofsted visits planned for several years (because they are "good" or "outstanding"...). It's a scandalous, cynical mess.

hillian Sat 19-Oct-13 11:57:53

The Ofsted report says that the school didn't live up to its own hype (paraphrasing). I suspect that the parents were less unwilling to admit to making a mistake and more duped into believing that the school was a lot better than it is.

Also, its a muslim school i.e. something which a reasonable guess would say that the parents want. It would be hard to break ranks with your community and expose the problems. In their situation, i wouldn't want to stand up first either.

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