Kent

Inspire Free School in Chatham rated 'inadequate'

School buildings Image copyright Google
Image caption The free school opened in September 2014, replacing The Oaks

A new free school for special needs pupils in Kent has been rated "inadequate" by Ofsted.

Inspectors criticised teaching quality, leadership, results and pupil welfare at Inspire Free School in Chatham, which opened in September 2014.

The school claimed a "very successful" first year and said it "was very proud" of its work with vulnerable children.

Its trustees said they had identified areas of weakness and found a new sponsor to help from 1 April.

The Ofsted inspection in January found poor English teaching, very poor attendance, rising rates of exclusion and low expectations of pupils.

It said some lessons were insufficiently challenging or interesting and school governors had not recognised problems.

The school has up to 50 boys and girls aged 11 to 18 with "complex emotional and behavioural concerns". It became Medway's only free school in September 2014, replacing The Oaks.

The new sponsor, Parallel Leaning Trust, has renamed the school Inspire Academy and plans a new uniform.

In a letter to parents, the school's trustees said that opening a new school was "very challenging" and blamed difficulties on staff sickness and vacancies.

'Identify failure'

The Department for Education said its regional schools commissioner had brought in a "strong new sponsor" and together they would work "to bring about the rapid improvements necessary".

It also claimed a "strength of the free school programme" was that "it could identify and deal with failure quickly in a way that is not possible in council-run schools".

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