Government closes free school

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A PROBLEM-HIT free school is to shut down after is funding was pulled.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has confirmed she has terminated the Durham Free School’s funding agreement.

She told the Commons there was no imminent prospect of improvement at the school, adding she was concerned to find the pupils had been let down by a “catalogue of failures”.

The school, which opened with just 94 pupils, has been placed in special measures following a report by Ofsted, MPs heard.

Free schools, set up under the flagship Government policy, previously closed down after damning assessments on how they were being run include the Al-Madinah School in Derby and the Discovery New School in Crawley, West Sussex.

Labour’s Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for City of Durham, told Mrs Morgan: “As I’m sure you are aware, Durham Free School in my constituency got a notice to improve from the Education Funding Agency before Christmas, and today it was put in special measures.

“It is, however, extremely difficult for me or anyone else to get information from the Education Funding Agency, so could you intervene to ensure that all information about this school and the reasons why it has failed and is so badly managed is put into the public domain?”

Mrs Morgan replied: “As you have already mentioned, this morning Ofsted published a report on Durham Free School.

“I was very concerned to find that children were let down by a catalogue of failures, as reported, and because I do not think there’s any imminent prospect of improvement the regional schools commissioner has today written to the school informing them that I have decided to terminate their funding agreement.

“I’m happy, of course, to have a further discussion - if it’s not me, it’ll be one of my ministerial colleagues - about the information that can be made available.

“There may be some confidentiality or sensitivity but I will endeavour to keep members updated.”

The school was set up by parents and teachers 18 months ago has been rated inadequate and put in special measures by Ofsted.

Inspectors pinpointed particular problems with bullying and poor pupil attitude in the report.

They also said the school’s curriculum was failing to help students understand “British values” or to “prepare them for life in modern Britain”.

Ofstead also said student achievement was “weak”, teaching “inadequate” and marking of pupil’s work “inaccurate”, with some pupils holding prejudiced views of other faiths which were not being challenged by the school.

Behaviour on school buses was also highlighted, with the inspectors saying: “Students call each other unpleasant names and there are many instances of bullying.”