The Department for Education has always said Free Schools were visited periodically after opening to ensure all was well. It was never clear who was making the visits, or what they involved, or what sort of feedback schools got – but we knew there were visits.
To find out more I put in a Freedom of Information request. I was particularly interested in the visits that happened prior to Free Schools receiving their first Ofsted inspection. This is because the Ofsted judgements of Free Schools have been touted by the Secretary of State as a demonstration of free schools’ excellence.
The DfE have said that they cannot release the forms (yawn – inevitable). However I also asked that if they were going to decline to release, they should nevertheless release a blank template. [It’s quite difficult to argue against that].
So here it is. Tell me, what do you notice?
Is it just me, or does this look like Free Schools are getting a report from the DfE that exactly mimics an Ofsted report in the time period before the school’s actual Ofsted inspection?
On the one hand I can see the argument is that schools needs support. But the point of being a “free” school is supposedly that they are free from the government…. So why are the DfE providing this help? Also, who pays for it? Can other schools ask for this kind of support from the DfE? Are ex-inspectors involved? Are current inspectors involved? All manner of tricky questions come to the fore.
I’m also intrigued by the confidentiality bulletin at the top. Subtext: NOT TO BE MENTIONED. AT ALL. EVER.
Sigh. I really hope we get to some transparency soon on these processes. It really would help.