A bilingual school, which uses English and Spanish, has failed to impress inspectors on its teaching of the foreign language.
The Bilingual Primary School has received a disappointing first Ofsted inspection report after assessors gave the school its second lowest rating of requiring improvement.
Inspectors said that the Spanish skills of pupils at the Brighton-based school, which opened in October 2012, were “not well developed”.
The criticism is even more surprising as a sizeable minority of pupils have Spanish as a first language.
Teaching staff at the state-funded free school said Ofsted’s conclusions on their Spanish teaching were a “mystery” and questioned whether inspectors had the right criteria to judge their unique school.
Ofsted inspectors visited the school, which is currently based in classrooms in Brighton Aldridge Community Academy, Lewes Road, on June 18 and 19.
The level of teaching was described as being “not consistently good enough” while teachers were assessed as not always being clear enough about what they want pupils to learn.
Pupils were also criticised for not listening carefully enough and for poor and late attendance.
But it was not all bad for the school with inspectors praising standards that were above those typical for pupils’ ages while school leaders had made recent improvements in teaching and pupils’ progress.
The school is set to move into a new site at a former council depot in The Droveway, Hove, in September next year.
There are currently 142 pupils at the school but the new three-storey building could eventually accommodate up to 630 pupils.
Opponents to the move say that the school has not proved its credentials yet to justify Brighton and Hove City Council’s decision made last month to lease them the land at a peppercorn rate for 125 years.
The school was also the subject of a Department for Education investigation in April over whistleblower claims and although the report cleared the school of any fraud, they were cautioned over their failure to follow financial rules.
Ofsted also found fault with the power structures in the school, calling for improvements in how governors held senior leaders to account.
The school has now been advised to carry out an external review of governance to assess how leadership and management could be improved.
Headteacher Carolina Gopal said the school had the backing of parents who were still “incredibly supportive” despite the Ofsted findings.
She added: “We are disappointed by Ofsted’s verdict as we don’t believe it is a true reflection of our school.
“Our pupils are outperforming normal students by 20% in some cases and we have had four unrelated independent experts who have been more than satisfied with our methods.”