Claims pupils at shut free school were 'taught nothing'

First published in News

Pupils at a free school which was closed down amid concerns about standards had been "taught nothing", a union leader is claiming.

According to Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), schools which had taken in students after the free school was shut had reported that some youngsters were a term behind where they should have been in their education.

It is understood the free school is Discovery New School, Crawley, which was one of the first of the Government's flagship free schools to open in 2011.

It was shut last month after serious concerns were raised about education standards - the first time one of these new schools was closed.

In his speech to the NAHT's annual conference in Birmingham, Mr Hobby is expected to express concerns about the pace of education reforms, arguing they have been rushed through in order to show results before the next election.

"The dangers of poorly thought through policy, rushed in to be able to claim a result, are also exemplified in the shaky results delivered by the earliest free schools.

"Some free schools are performing highly and, to be fair, few schools could have lived up to the hype attached to them, but some people were given schools to run who should not have been allowed near them.

"I have spoken to schools who have taken in children after the collapse of one free school. They reported for one group that after one term of education they were precisely one term behind where they should have been. They had been taught nothing."

Mr Hobby claimed that the approach to reform is "dedicated to cramming in enough changes to show tangible results before the next election."

He adds that the upcoming autumn term will see the introduction of a new curriculum and free school meals for infants, as well as changes to assessment and teachers' pay.

"Is it a coincidence that this is the last chance to get big changes through before the next election?" Mr Hobby said.

"No, but is that a good enough reason?"

Free schools - state schools that are free from local council control with power over areas such as the curriculum - are one of the Government's key education policies.

Three-quarters of the first 24 free schools to open to pupils - those that opened in autumn 2011, have been declared good or better by Ofsted.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "Unfortunately the standard of education at Discovery New School was simply not good enough. That is why we took action to close the school just seven months after its 'inadequate' rating.

"We will not tolerate under-performance in any school and, as we have demonstrated, we will take swift and decisive action if children are not getting the education they deserve."

She added that there are more than 170 free schools open across the country and the "vast majority" are performing well.

Comments (14)

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9:06am Sun 4 May 14

qm says...

Would have thought Russell Hobby's (general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)) statement that his members at this school had taught the pupils nothing would have been something he would want to keep quiet!
Would have thought Russell Hobby's (general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)) statement that his members at this school had taught the pupils nothing would have been something he would want to keep quiet! qm
  • Score: -5

9:31am Sun 4 May 14

HJarrs says...

A failed school that has damaged many children's education, cost the tax payer a fortune to set up and now the burden will fall on the council. Well done Mr Gove, another fantastic success on the way to privatising education.
A failed school that has damaged many children's education, cost the tax payer a fortune to set up and now the burden will fall on the council. Well done Mr Gove, another fantastic success on the way to privatising education. HJarrs
  • Score: 5

10:28am Sun 4 May 14

mimseycal says...

Yet another instance where poorly thought out and hurriedly rushed through policy changes cost the taxpayer and the vulnerable, in this case children and their education, the most.
Yet another instance where poorly thought out and hurriedly rushed through policy changes cost the taxpayer and the vulnerable, in this case children and their education, the most. mimseycal
  • Score: 8

1:21pm Sun 4 May 14

From beer to uncertainty says...

That was the whole point.
That was the whole point. From beer to uncertainty
  • Score: -1

2:19pm Sun 4 May 14

mimseycal says...

qm wrote:
Would have thought Russell Hobby's (general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)) statement that his members at this school had taught the pupils nothing would have been something he would want to keep quiet!
I seem to recollect that free schools, Academies, can employ teachers without Qualified teacher status (QTS) if the board believe the 'teachers are suitably qualified. Further head teachers at Academies are exempt from holding the National Professional Qualification for Headship ...
[quote][p][bold]qm[/bold] wrote: Would have thought Russell Hobby's (general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)) statement that his members at this school had taught the pupils nothing would have been something he would want to keep quiet![/p][/quote]I seem to recollect that free schools, Academies, can employ teachers without Qualified teacher status (QTS) if the board believe the 'teachers are suitably qualified. Further head teachers at Academies are exempt from holding the National Professional Qualification for Headship ... mimseycal
  • Score: 4

4:23pm Sun 4 May 14

sussexram40 says...

It's a disgrace that these free schools don't have to emply proper, qualified, checked out teachers . Even more worrying that some parents are willing to send their kids to them.
It's a disgrace that these free schools don't have to emply proper, qualified, checked out teachers . Even more worrying that some parents are willing to send their kids to them. sussexram40
  • Score: 7

4:51pm Sun 4 May 14

Andy R says...

qm wrote:
Would have thought Russell Hobby's (general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)) statement that his members at this school had taught the pupils nothing would have been something he would want to keep quiet!
Well at most only one of his members would have been working at the school and probably not teaching.

National Association of Head Teachers....the clue's in the title.
[quote][p][bold]qm[/bold] wrote: Would have thought Russell Hobby's (general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)) statement that his members at this school had taught the pupils nothing would have been something he would want to keep quiet![/p][/quote]Well at most only one of his members would have been working at the school and probably not teaching. National Association of Head Teachers....the clue's in the title. Andy R
  • Score: 3

4:58pm Sun 4 May 14

bug eye says...

"According to Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), schools which had taken in students after the free school was shut had reported that some youngsters were a term behind where they should have been in their education".

Meanwhile union controlled teachers in state schools with a teaching diploma fail many pupils according to employers as they leave without being able to read or write. What more is there to say.

Unqualified teachers with experience in their specialist subject at private schools are highly praised, the unqualified teacher is a typical weak argument, its not about education its about pensions, long term sick pay and holidays., just be honest.
"According to Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), schools which had taken in students after the free school was shut had reported that some youngsters were a term behind where they should have been in their education". Meanwhile union controlled teachers in state schools with a teaching diploma fail many pupils according to employers as they leave without being able to read or write. What more is there to say. Unqualified teachers with experience in their specialist subject at private schools are highly praised, the unqualified teacher is a typical weak argument, its not about education its about pensions, long term sick pay and holidays., just be honest. bug eye
  • Score: -3

6:08pm Sun 4 May 14

Sir Prised says...

Free schools are an insane idea as is any parental involvement in their running. Schools should be State run and entrance purerly based on location or ability as assessed by external examination. There shouldn't be good schools and bad school. Surely after several centuries, we know what makes a good school and if the teachers can't deliver, then get some who can. Children only get one chance at this and we have been letting too many down for far too long, whilst the few can escape by paying.
Free schools are an insane idea as is any parental involvement in their running. Schools should be State run and entrance purerly based on location or ability as assessed by external examination. There shouldn't be good schools and bad school. Surely after several centuries, we know what makes a good school and if the teachers can't deliver, then get some who can. Children only get one chance at this and we have been letting too many down for far too long, whilst the few can escape by paying. Sir Prised
  • Score: 2

8:06pm Sun 4 May 14

Andy R says...

bug eye wrote:
"According to Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), schools which had taken in students after the free school was shut had reported that some youngsters were a term behind where they should have been in their education".

Meanwhile union controlled teachers in state schools with a teaching diploma fail many pupils according to employers as they leave without being able to read or write. What more is there to say.

Unqualified teachers with experience in their specialist subject at private schools are highly praised, the unqualified teacher is a typical weak argument, its not about education its about pensions, long term sick pay and holidays., just be honest.
"Union-controlled teachers".....wooooh
....spooky......

After you with the tin foil hat......
[quote][p][bold]bug eye[/bold] wrote: "According to Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), schools which had taken in students after the free school was shut had reported that some youngsters were a term behind where they should have been in their education". Meanwhile union controlled teachers in state schools with a teaching diploma fail many pupils according to employers as they leave without being able to read or write. What more is there to say. Unqualified teachers with experience in their specialist subject at private schools are highly praised, the unqualified teacher is a typical weak argument, its not about education its about pensions, long term sick pay and holidays., just be honest.[/p][/quote]"Union-controlled teachers".....wooooh ....spooky...... After you with the tin foil hat...... Andy R
  • Score: -1

8:34am Mon 5 May 14

Plantpot says...

HJarrs wrote:
A failed school that has damaged many children's education, cost the tax payer a fortune to set up and now the burden will fall on the council. Well done Mr Gove, another fantastic success on the way to privatising education.
There are plenty of state schools that fail children also.

Many children would do better at school if their parents took an active interest in their education.

Not all children are either capable of, or want to learn academic subjects. For these kids why not offer a more practical education? The German model seems to work very well for them.
[quote][p][bold]HJarrs[/bold] wrote: A failed school that has damaged many children's education, cost the tax payer a fortune to set up and now the burden will fall on the council. Well done Mr Gove, another fantastic success on the way to privatising education.[/p][/quote]There are plenty of state schools that fail children also. Many children would do better at school if their parents took an active interest in their education. Not all children are either capable of, or want to learn academic subjects. For these kids why not offer a more practical education? The German model seems to work very well for them. Plantpot
  • Score: 1

8:35am Mon 5 May 14

Plantpot says...

sussexram40 wrote:
It's a disgrace that these free schools don't have to emply proper, qualified, checked out teachers . Even more worrying that some parents are willing to send their kids to them.
Plenty of schools that have "proper, qualified teachers" have lousy results.
[quote][p][bold]sussexram40[/bold] wrote: It's a disgrace that these free schools don't have to emply proper, qualified, checked out teachers . Even more worrying that some parents are willing to send their kids to them.[/p][/quote]Plenty of schools that have "proper, qualified teachers" have lousy results. Plantpot
  • Score: -1

8:40am Mon 5 May 14

Plantpot says...

Sir Prised wrote:
Free schools are an insane idea as is any parental involvement in their running. Schools should be State run and entrance purerly based on location or ability as assessed by external examination. There shouldn't be good schools and bad school. Surely after several centuries, we know what makes a good school and if the teachers can't deliver, then get some who can. Children only get one chance at this and we have been letting too many down for far too long, whilst the few can escape by paying.
The problem you have is that there have always been good and bad teachers, good and bad schools etc. Why do you think private schools are so popular amongst those that can afford them? Why is it that members of the cabinet of any colour get their kids privately educated or find a way to send them to selective state schools?

Teaching, like most state sector activity, is highly politicised. Why would people want their kids being "educated" by those sorts of people? My kids frequently came home with examples of teachers comments that went beyond their remit.
[quote][p][bold]Sir Prised[/bold] wrote: Free schools are an insane idea as is any parental involvement in their running. Schools should be State run and entrance purerly based on location or ability as assessed by external examination. There shouldn't be good schools and bad school. Surely after several centuries, we know what makes a good school and if the teachers can't deliver, then get some who can. Children only get one chance at this and we have been letting too many down for far too long, whilst the few can escape by paying.[/p][/quote]The problem you have is that there have always been good and bad teachers, good and bad schools etc. Why do you think private schools are so popular amongst those that can afford them? Why is it that members of the cabinet of any colour get their kids privately educated or find a way to send them to selective state schools? Teaching, like most state sector activity, is highly politicised. Why would people want their kids being "educated" by those sorts of people? My kids frequently came home with examples of teachers comments that went beyond their remit. Plantpot
  • Score: 3

9:25pm Mon 5 May 14

derekhunt says...

A whole school full of pupils that have been taught nothing?

At least we know where our future MPs are going to come from
A whole school full of pupils that have been taught nothing? At least we know where our future MPs are going to come from derekhunt
  • Score: 1

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