Ixworth Free School rated ‘requires improvement’ after first Ofsted inspection

The new Ixworth Free School opens its doors.

The new Ixworth Free School opens its doors. - Credit: Archant

Ixworth Free School, which cost the taxpayer an estimated £5-7million to open in September 2014, has been criticised by Ofsted over attracting and retaining students and teachers in its first inspection.

It was rated ‘requires improvement’ after a two-day visit by the education inspectorate in late June.

Inspectors also raised concerns over the quality of teaching, with most pupils finding work “too easy”, and said the school’s self-assessment is “too generous”.

See the full report here.

The 231-pupil school, run by the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, is the last of the six free schools in Suffolk to receive an Ofsted rating. Two are rated ‘requires improvement’, three are ‘good’, and one is ‘outstanding’.

Free schools are a type of academy, funded by the state but not controlled by a local authority. They have freedoms over areas such as pay and the curriculum, but have attracted criticism over a perceived lack of need for them.

This newspaper also previously revealed how less than half (43%) of Year 7 places at Ixworth Free School had been allocated (51 out of 120). More were expected after the deadline expired.

Lead inspector John Mitcheson said: “(Leaders) have been less effective in attracting and retaining enough pupils to have the resources they need to build capacity and lead further improvement. Changes in staffing and difficulties in recruiting new staff have hampered the school’s development. The inability of leaders to secure good teaching has a detrimental effect on the progress made by pupils. The headteacher and her senior team have implemented plans to improve further...but they do not include measurable targets.”

Headteacher Niki King, who is being replaced by Mark Barrow in September as she joins Woodbridge School as deputy head (academic), said the school is “determined” to improve.

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She said: “Inspectors identified many strengths, including secure and effective safeguarding arrangements, and a rich, stimulating learning environment. Inspectors also praised the school’s good spiritual, moral and cultural education. The school also offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities, after-school clubs, and timetabled enrichment sessions.”

The news comes after Ixworth Primary School was rated ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures in May.

Current Ofsted ratings for free schools in Suffolk:

• Stour Valley Community School, opened 2011, run by The Stour Valley Educational Trust, – Good

• Beccles Free School, opened 2012, run by Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust – Good

• IES Breckland, opened 2012, run by Sabres Educational Trust – Requires Improvement

• Saxmundham Free School, opened 2012, run by Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust – Good

• Churchill Free Special School, opened 2013, run by Samuel Ward Multi Academy Trust – Outstanding

• Ixworth Free School, opened 2014, run by Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust – Requires Improvement

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