July 23 2014 Latest news:
Andrew Fitchett, Reporter
Monday, March 10, 2014
A pioneering free school which was backed by a Swedish education provider has been given the lowest possible rating by Ofsted after its first inspection.
IES Breckland Free School’s principal, Alison Tilbrook, told parents today that a report to be released on Thursday will show that the school has been found to be “inadequate” and placed in Special Measures.
Mrs Tilbrook, who joined the school at the end of January, told parents her job was now to implement improvement.
“The task given to me as principal, which I have been glad to take, is to turn around the fortunes of this school, to support staff to improve, and to make beneficial recruitment decisions. This is a challenge for all involved, but one which we are equal to.
“The atmosphere in the school is fantastic and there is a real determination to succeed from staff and students. Our students are incredibly willing to learn and up to the challenge of working to achieve the best results they can,” she said in the letter.
Last week, the school’s Swedish education providers, International English Schools (IES), admitted that the education being provided at the free school was “sub-standard”, following an assessment.
Mrs Tilbrook said that resulted in plans for improvement being put in place.
“International English Schools’ assessment in late Autumn that the school must improve meant that by the time of the Ofsted inspection, changes were being made. The school was recruiting staff and reviewing policies in a drive to provide quality in education.
“Ofsted’s role was to judge the school it found on the day, rather than our plans for improvement. The ongoing staff recruitment and work which had begun to transform the school were, quite rightly, not under consideration. Likewise the fact that this short-term process will mean long-term gains could not affect the report.
“However, the changes we are now making in the school will have positive effects which will be felt by all,” she said.
The school opened in September 2012 after IES signed a 10-year contract to run the school worth £21 million.
It moved into the home of the former Breckland Middle School, which closed due to Suffolk County Council’s School Organisation Review (SOR).
A campaign to create the school was run by the Sabres Educational Trust, which included former staff members of Breckland Middle School, and backed by Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk.
Upon the school being approved by the Department for Education, no staff from Breckland Middle School were given new roles.
It has since been beset with problems, including original principal, Sherry Zand, leaving her post in November.
That was shortly after six teachers were released by the school in a single week, which brought criticism from parents and teachers’ unions.
What do you think of IES Breckland Free School’s performance? Let us know by emailing reporter Andrew Fitchett on firstname.lastname@example.org