Sunderland free school plans ‘not fit for purposes,’ claim inspectors

Grindon Hall Christian School
Grindon Hall Christian School
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EDUCATION bosses say plans to improve the city’s free school are not yet good enough.

Controversy followed the announcement at the beginning of the year that Grindon Hall Christian School was being placed in special measures by Ofsted inspectors.

They said the school, in Nookside, was inadequate and needed to urgently improve the quality and impact of leaders.

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

The report also said the quality of leadership, behaviour and safety of pupils and the sixth form provision were all inadequate.

Inspectors added that leaders failed to address weaknesses in pupils’ writing, teachers did not demonstrate high enough expectations, pupils’ behaviour needed improvement and children in early years did not make as much progress as they should.

Headteacher, Chris Gray, made an official complaint to Ofsted about what was seen as hostile questioning of pupils and said the report lacks any sense of proportion.

Following a recent monitoring visit in February, the inspectors said although there had been changes made, the school’s action plan is not fit for purpose.

In a letter published last week following the visit, they said: “The governing body, under the very recently appointed chairman, has begun to address the weaknesses identified in the recent inspection report.

“The governing body is now more carefully structured so that its committee’s focus on particular aspects of the school’s work.

“Under the leadership of the new chairman, it has further refined and focused the review’s findings to ensure that tackling key weaknesses is at the core of its work. It now has a clear ‘road map’ of actions to improve the governing body’s ability to hold leaders to account.

“Leaders are introducing a more robust approach to monitor student progress and the quality of teaching. Leaders are now showing a clearer understanding of what needs to be done and have established appropriate priorities.Leaders now need to act on these decisions to move matters forward quickly.

“The school’s improvement plan takes account of the weaknesses identified in the recent inspection report. However, it does not focus specifically enough on how individuals, groups of staff and governors at the school will tackle these weaknesses.

“Nor does the plan identify clearly enough who is responsible for leading on each action and who is responsible for assessing the impact of these actions.”

This was the first monitoring visit to the school and inspectors strongly recommended Grindon Hall does not appoint any newly qualified teachers.

Grindon Hall, a former private school with 590 students aged four-18, opened as a state-funded free school in September 2012.