Flagship free school championed by Michael Gove told to improve


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The Independent Online

A flagship free school praised by both Prime Minister David Cameron and Education Secretary Michael Gove has been told by inspectors it must pull its socks up and improve.

The verdict on the Greenwich free school in south east London comes despite high profile supporters including Tom Shinner, the vice-chairman of its governing body and the recently appointed director of strategy and performance at the Department for Education, and Jonathan Simons, head of education at the Policy Exchange think tank founded by Gove, who is co-founder of the school.

Mr Cameron said of the school: “This free school, like all others, is born of a real passion for education - a belief in its power to change lives.”

Mr Gove said free schools policy gave the green light “a group of teachers determined to prove that every child can succeed if given a classical liberal education, like the team behind the Greenwich free school.

However, the inspection report said: “Teachers do not ensure that students complete tasks to a high enough standard. Some work is untidy and written work is often too short and incomplete.

“Lower-ability students fall behind in some lessons because the teaching does not cater for its needs... In some lessons teachers do not set challenging enough work for the most able students.”

The inspectors praised the school’s record on the behaviour and safety of pupils, although they delivered a “requires improvement” verdict, one grade away from declaring it “inadequate”.

The school’s governors said they were “surprised” the report differed from the feedback it had received from parents and visiting educationalists but said they took the inspectors’ views “very seriously” and would respond to them.