Sunderland's free school on the road to full recovery say Ofsted chiefs

Things are still on the up at Sunderland's only free school say education bosses.

Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 5:00 am
Grindon Hall Christian School

Following the fifth monitoring visit, Ofsted chiefs said Grindon Hall Christian School is continuing to improve.

The free school was the centre of controversy in November 2014 when it was placed in special measures by the education watchdogs.

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.

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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.

However, the school, which had a shake-up of leaders, is now taking effective action towards the removal of special measures and can now appoint newly qualified teachers.

Following their latest visit to the school, inspectors said: “The interim principal continues to have a positive impact on the school.

“High expectations and a fuller involvement of staff are leading to improvements in the quality of teaching.

“Staff and pupils are responding enthusiastically to the principal’s clear vision for the school.”

They added: “The school’s actions to keep pupils safe are effective. Leaders ensure that there is a culture where there is a strong emphasis on safeguarding at the school.”

But the inspectors noted: “There is still too much variability in the quality of teaching across the school.”

Neil Kell, chairman of governors at the school, said: “The governing body at GHCS are delighted with the progress made in recent months which is reflected in this term’s Ofsted report. We would like to formally place on record our immense gratitude to Trevor Swann our Interim Principal, who has led the school unerringly during the last seven months, as we moved towards sponsorship.

“His efforts have quite rightly been recognised by Ofsted, but his impact upon the school has been far more reaching than simply addressing the requirements of the regulator. He has guided and mentored staff, made strategic changes and worked collaboratively with governors and parents to set the school on such a positive course, whilst at the same time retaining and supporting those aspects, such as our Christian ethos, which contribute to making the school so unique and popular.”

Grindon Hall Christian School is on track to join multi-academy trust, Bright Tribe Trust from 1 September 2016.

Director of Schools at Bright Tribe, Gary Kelly, said: “We are looking forward to working closely with the staff and leadership team at Grindon Hall Christian School on our journey towards making the school outstanding.”