Sunderland’s free school is continuing to improve

Grindon Hall Christian School.
Grindon Hall Christian School.
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Sunderland’s only free school is continuing to move forward, say education bosses.

Following a visit this month, Ofsted chiefs said Grindon Hall Christian School is continuing to improve.

The free school was thrown into controversy in November 2014 when it was placed in special measures by Ofsted chiefs.

They said the Nookside school needed to urgently improve the quality and impact of leaders, and that behaviour and safety of pupils and the sixth form provision were inadequate.

Parents were left outraged by the inspectors’ judgement that pupils were intolerant to different faiths and cultures, and hundreds joined a support group backing their school.

This week inspectors returned to the school for its fourth monitoring visit and said it was continuing to make good headway towards having special measures removed.

Neil Kell, chairman of governors at Grindon Hall, said: “This judgment is a reflection of the enthusiasm, commitment and hard work of everyone involved with the school.

“Our popularity in the community remains high, as we are once again heavily over-subscribed for next year’s intake.

“We realise that there is still some work to be done in order to meet all of Ofsted’s requirements, but we are confident that systems and processes are now in place which will swiftly address any outstanding matters.”

In their letter following the visit, the inspectors said: “Leaders continue to improve the accuracy of the information they gather about pupils’ performance through more robust challenge and testing.

“Although improving overall, there is still too much variability in the quality of teaching across the school.”

Some areas in the secondary building are drab, but the environment in the primary school continues to be vibrant and attractive.

Inspectors said: “Leaders ensure that safeguarding systems continue to be effective and rigorously monitored.”