The on-line brochure for IES Breckland used to say the free school “is recognised by all as the outstanding local secondary school.”
No longer. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA
) objected to the use of the word “outstanding” which implies the school had been judged by Ofsted to be in the Outstanding category. IES Breckland has not yet been inspected.
The brochure has now been changed
to “It is recognised by all as the academic local secondary school.”
The Cambridge Meridian Trust (CMAT) has also been censured
for using “outstanding” in a press advertisement for the proposed Stamford Free School. CMAT also claimed it ran “one of the highest achieving schools in the country”. Although this claim could be upheld by evidence from Ofsted’s RaiseOnline entry which put the CMAT academy, Swavesey Village College, in the top 10% of all schools for performance in their best 8 subjects, the academy was not one of the “highest-achieving” when judged solely on GCSE results. CMAT acknowledged the claim might confuse readers.
It’s not the first time the ASA has censured a school for using “Outstanding” when it shouldn’t. The Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust
had two complaints upheld about marketing on a third-party website in 2012. Beccles Free School, which is a Seckford Foundation school, used the word “outstanding” in its marketing before it had even opened.
In a ruling dated October 2013, the ASA censured the United Church Schools Trust
for misleading readers by using “outstanding” in adverts for Sunderland High School, an independent school in Tyne and Wear. The United Church Schools Trust is part of United Learning (ULT
) which operates a chain of private schools and academies. Schools minister, Lord Nash, sent a pre-warning letter
to ULT about Sheffield Springs Academy in November 2013. Lord Nash said he was “convinced that there has been a serious breakdown in the way that the Academies are managed and governed”*. ULT was temporarily banned from taking on more academies by the Labour government because of poor performance. Michael Gove lifted the veto
when he became Education Secretary and praised ULT for “doing an amazing job on the ground.” It appears the Trust is so amazing it doesn’t know when it’s not entitled to use the word “outstanding”.
The proposed Phoenix Free School in Oldham has also been censured
by ASA. Its website said its educational adviser, Tom Burkard, was “Professor of Educational Policy at Derby University”. But Burkard was not employed by Derby University. He’s a “Visiting Professor” and holds no formal post
there. The school’s website has now been amended
*Lord Nash’s letter referred only to one academy. But the quote refers to “academies”. It’s unclear whether Lord Nash meant other ULT academies or whether “academies” was a typo.