Free Schools … how do they stack up?

Inspections of England’s first 24 free schools show they are performing in line with other state schools, with 75% rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.

Four were considered outstanding, 14 were good, six required improvement and one was deemed inadequate.

Ofsted data shows that, on 31 March, 79% of all state schools in England were good or outstanding, 19% required improvement and 3% were inadequate. For all those maths people out there who will say this can be right as it adds up to 101%, these statistics have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

The 24 schools inspected were the first state-funded schools that opened in 2011, which has become the flagship policy of Michael Gove. Mr Gove said the Ofsted inspection results were further evidence of the high standards at free schools.

“Too often the best schools are only available to the rich who can afford to go private or pay for an expensive house in the catchment area of a good school. Free schools are giving all parents, not just the rich, the choice of a high-quality school with great teaching and strong discipline.”

As always I find quite a few things … well interesting. If we look at the results a bit more closely, we notice that only 1/6 of the schools are ‘outstanding’ and over 1/4 of these schools are simply not good enough. I realise this is only a small sample size but a lot of state schools we have in the country are rated ‘outstanding’, and the percentages do not correlate with free schools, which to me suggests free schools are not yet up to the standard of our state schools, implying that more of them will be a detriment to our education system as opposed to an improvement.

The other significant detail here is the timing of this announcement. Yesterday we saw how Ofsted clearly failed to do their job properly, and today they’re bringing up news of more inspections, which they believe is impressive. I personally think this is Ofsted trying to justify it’s existence after yesterday’s poor showing, and quite frankly it hasn’t done a very good job of that for me.


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