Are Free School Monitoring Visits going to be published?

I recently shared the results of an information request that revealed how Free Schools were getting monitoring visits from the Department for Education which appear to provide recommendations and feedback that would make the schools “Ofsted-ready”.

People were outraged that schools who are not paying for such centralised improvement services seem to be getting them for free, and others raised concern about the likelihood that monitoring visits were highlighting problems which were then ‘hidden’ before Ofsted arrived.

Yesterday, in response to the suggestion that one DfE monitoring visit labelled IES Breckland as ‘outstanding’ but then – less than four months later – a due Ofsted report has labeled it as ‘inadequate’, the Education/BIS Minister Matthew Hancock stated in an ITV interview that transparency around Free Schools is “better than not” having it and that such transparency was being given by the publishing of “those reports”. His suggestion seemed to be that the public had the right information because they had both the Monitoring Form AND the Ofsted report. But, at present, only one report is due to be released: the Ofsted one. I have no idea how ITV know about the monitoring form. As my prior post pointed out there is a massive warning written on the forms saying that the school must not share them with anyone.

I have therefore resubmitted a request to the Department asking for full reports to be published. I originally did this and was told that they couldn’t be released due to the need for the frank provision of advice. However, that exemption relies on a Minister agreeing that the need to give advice is not outweighed by a public interest. We now have a Minister suggesting, on TV, that release is important.

I am therefore hoping the DfE will reconsider their original refusal.

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Categories: UK Education Policy

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