Free schools are great…says chair of free school slammed by Ofsted

The Policy Exchange report was conveniently released on the day David Cameron announced 49 new free schools


The author of a report which praised the government’s free schools policy is himself the chair of governors at a free school which was judged by Ofsted to “require improvement”.

Jonathan Simons, who authored a report for Policy Exchange (released yesterday) which lavished praise on former education secretary Michael Gove’s flagship free schools policy, is the chair of governors at Greenwich Free School. According to the most recent report from Ofsted, the school’s leadership and governors were not taking effective action to tackle issues relating to teaching at the school.

“Too few students make good progress across the different subjects”, according to Ofsted. “In addition, disabled students and those with special educational needs are not achieving the standards they are capable of in English and mathematics,” it added.

Meanwhile, students eligible for pupil premium funding were reported to have made insufficient progress in English, as had some students who had attained well at primary school.

Despite inspectors being told by the school that students had made outstanding progress since attending, the report said that “inspectors do not agree with the leadership team’s view that every aspect of the school is outstanding”.

Prior to its Ofsted inspection, former education secretary Michael Gove regularly praised Greenwich Free School as an example of the free schools policy working.

“Our free schools policy is giving even more teachers the chance to make a difference where it matters. Whether it’s…a group of teachers determined to prove that every child can succeed … like the team behind Greenwich Free School,” Gove said in 2013.

He also said last year that “Educational innovation has a new generation of heroes and heroines in…the team behind the Greenwich Free School.”

The Policy Exchange report was conveniently released on the same day that David Cameron announced 49 new free schools and committed to opening 500 more.

James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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