EXCLUSIVE: Hawthorne’s Free School Taken Over

A free school judged to be ‘inadequate’ earlier this year is in the process of transferring to a new academy trust, Schools Week can report.

The Hawthorne’s free school, in Bootle, became the fifth free school to be rated ‘inadequate’ after being visited by Ofsted in February.

The school will now join the Great Schools for All Children trust, which currently runs the King’s Leadership Academy free school in Warrington.

Sir Iain Hall, chair of the trust, confirmed to Schools Week that the Hawthorne’s school was “in the process” of transferring in, and this was expected to be completed in January.

“Officially now we are dissolving the board of trustees for the Hawthorne’s,” he said.

Sir Iain said that he had been contacted by the Department for Education in March, and had been working with the Hawthorne’s school to turn around their performance since then.

Sir Iain said that the school’s governors had recognised they did not have suitable experience to carry on overseeing the school and had all stepped down on 30 September.

The headteacher has also left the school, with an interim leader to be brought in after half-term. Sir Iain said that he would not be recruiting a permanent head until the school was out of special measures.

“I can see the green shoots of recovery,” Sir Iain said.

The transfer means that all but one of the free schools judged ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted have either closed or moved to a different academy trust. Discovery New School was forced to shut earlier this year, while Hartsbrook E-Act Free School, the Al-Madinah School and now the Hawthorne’s Free School have all changed sponsor.

A fifth free school, IES Breckland in Brandon, Suffolk, was placed into special measures after receiving an ‘inadequate’ grade following an inspection in January.

It has remained with the same trust who contract the running of the school to Swedish education company IES.

Andrew Challiss, chair of the SABREs Trust, said: “SABRE’s Trust are firmly committed, with IES and the governors, to take the school forward and we are working hard on progress for the future.”

IES Breckland principal Alison Tilbrook said that IES also remained fully committed to the school, and that “positive steps” had been taken since the school’s Ofsted inspection, with a new principal and assistant principal appointed.

Asked whether the school would be expected to transfer to a new trust, the Department for Education said: “Where a school is found to be inadequate we expect the governing body or trust to take swift action to address the failure. We are working with IES Breckland to ensure this happens.”

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