IES Breckland, run by for-profit IES, is now in Special Measures

Janet Downs's picture
Only a few weeks’ ago, IES Breckland, a Suffolk free school, boasted it was “recognised by all as the outstanding local secondary school”. Advertising Standards ruled the school couldn’t make this claim because Ofsted hadn’t inspected it.

Ofsted has now made a judgement – IES Breckland is Inadequate on all four measures.

IES Breckland was set up by Sabres Educational Trust which outsourced the running of the school to Internationella Engelska Skolan (IES), a Swedish for-profit education provider now owned by global private equity firm TA Associates. IES appointed the first head who left suddenly at the start of the second year following the abrupt exit of six members of staff. IES immediately parachuted in its Chief Operating Officer, Peter Fyles, who had joined IES 15 years ago as a history teacher in Sweden. He had been Chief Executive Officer of IES until June 2013 when he stepped down.

Fyles was acting Principal when Ofsted visited.

Inspectors found IES Breckland was not giving its pupils “an acceptable standard of education”. They also judged those responsible for leadership, management or governance didn’t show the “capacity to secure the necessary improvement”.

This is a long way from promises made when IES Breckland began.

Inspectors identified three strengths: “generally high” standards in maths, “some teaching” was outstanding and provision for spiritual and cultural education was good.

But these strengths were significantly outweighed by weaknesses. These included:

1Pupils made slow progress.

2Standards of work in English had actually declined.

3Frequent changes of teacher led to inconsistency in teaching approach.

4Not all the teachers had sufficient subject expertise.

5Marking was poor.

6Education was “seriously disrupted” when key staff left in autumn 2013.

7Inadequate behaviour.

8Governors didn’t ensure the school met requirements to keep children safe.

9There was no “named person” listed on the safeguarding policy as is required by law.

10Neither the Principal nor the person with responsibility for safeguarding had sufficient training.

11Coordination of provision for special needs pupils had only just been set up before Ofsted arrived.

Inspectors have recommended an external review of governance should take place.

This Ofsted judgement seems to show two things:

1A system which is alleged to work in one country does not necessarily work in another. This is especially true when teachers are recruited from outside England – they may have insufficient knowledge of legal requirements, for example.

2The proposers appear to have been over-confident about their competence: the lack of knowledge of safeguarding, for example, or the apparent lack of urgency to coordinate special needs provision. Worse, the willingness to hand over the entire running of the school to an outside agency thereby relinquishing control when they, as trustees, remained responsible for any failure.

Private Eye recently asked if Sabres Educational Trust was little more than a powerless conduit for the Department for Education to send money to IES in Sweden. Perhaps the forthcoming external review of governance will throw light on any failings by the Trust or IES.

In the meantime, there are pupils and their parents who have been let down. The were promised "outstanding" education but it appears to have been little more than marketing hype from a for-profit provider who hoped to expand its chain in England.

The Ofsted report for IES Breckland can be downloaded here.
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Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 02/04/2014 - 09:51

UPDATE: 2 April. A former parent governor at IES Breckland explains why he's removed his daughter from the school here.

… we could mention IES Breckland in Suffolk – England’s first for profit school run by a Swedish company that admitted, last …

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