CET Primary School Westminster, a free school run by Constable Educational Trust, was judged “Requires Improvement” in all four categories by Ofsted
Leaders and governors had an “over-rosy” view of the school, inspectors wrote. They said lessons were “planned thoroughly” but insufficient attention was given to ensure they were sufficiently challenging. The school, which received £375,034* in post-opening funding and which is currently being funded for 112 pupils
when the school census shows it had 84** pupils on roll, did not have enough good quality reading books, classrooms were untidy and cluttered, and teachers overused worksheets which were stuffed into “scruffy” books.
Concerns had been expressed in Parliament last November about an unnamed school which was later revealed to be CET Westminster. Dr John Pugh MP had read out an email from a parent who complained about an apparent lack of knowledge of statutory responsibilities by the school’s trustees. The email described a parents’ forum at the school which had descended into chaos with the trustees unable to cope. However, inspectors found parents were supportive of the school and said governors ensured statutory duties such as safeguarding were met.
Dr Pugh had used the email to highlight the frustration felt by parents who found complaining about free schools difficult because they were not under the stewardship of local authorities.
Inspectors found the executive head and the deputy had started work in September 2013 at a time when most of the staff were also new. It appears, then, the head appointed in September 2012 when the school opened has already left. This appears to be becoming a pattern in free schools: Thomas Packer, West London Free School, was head for just four terms
before becoming Education Director of West London Free School Trust. He left the Trust on 31 August 2013. Lee Faith, the head of Greenwich Free School left after just one year. Andrew Cutts-McKay left Al-Madinah after threats
were made against him – he blew the whistle on school which was later judged by inspectors to be “dysfunctional”. Sherry Zand left IES Breckland
at the start of her second year. The principal of Krishna-Avanti Free School left after six terms
. Hadlow Rural Community School, a free school which opened in September 2013, placed an advert in TES on 6 December for a head to start in April 2014 in TES. It’s unclear what happened to Steve Davies who was head when the school opened
. And Annaliese Briggs left Pimlico Free School when the school had only been opened for a few weeks
The chairman of CET Primary Schools left a message
on West End Extra
website on 14 February, the day the Ofsted report was published. He said “I believe that any fair appraisal of the education, business and professional experience of our board would conclude that it is impressive.”
But Ofsted doesn’t appear to have been impressed with the governance: it has recommended an external review to find out how it could be improved.
*Spreadsheet showing pre- and post-opening costs for first- and second-wave free schools found by Google search but I’m unable to provide a link.
**The chair of governors says there are 94 pupils on roll
Note: citing Ofsted judgements does not imply agreement.