Free school disappoints with 28% GCSE rate

Free school disappoints with 28% GCSE rate

An education trust is launching an external review after less than a third of pupils at one of its free schools achieved five or more A* to C grades in its first set of GCSE results.

Just 28 per cent of the 47 pupils at Saxmundham Free School, in Suffolk, achieved five or more A* to C grades, including English and maths.

It was one of two schools run by The Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust which posted its first GCSE results today.

The other – Beccles Free School, also in Suffolk – saw 39 per cent of its 49 pupils achieve the GCSE benchmark figure.

Both schools opened in September 2012 and were rated as good with outstanding features by Ofsted last year.

They have received a total of just over £2m in funding for pre and post-opening expenses.

The trust, in a statement on its website, said it had not done as well as it expected and called the results “disappointing”.

An external review will now be launched in September.

Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, tweeted today the trust is right to launch the investigation, but said the school knew the year group, which started at both schools in Year 9, was “challenging”.

David Lees, headteacher at Saxmundham Free School, said: “The group of Year 9 students who joined us when the school opened in September 2012 faced a lot of individual educational challenges with 45 per cent at the time being below the expected levels in literacy and 55 per cent below the expected levels in numeracy.

“Over the last three years we have been able to increase the expected attainment levels of these students, who should be congratulated for their hard work.”

Nigel Youngman, headteacher at Beccles Free School, added: “Whilst we are disappointed with the overall results, a number of students have received outstanding results and each individual should be congratulated for their hard work and achievement.”

Beccles Free School

Beccles Free School

The trust has a third school, Ixworth, which opened in September last year, amid concerns from the local community it would put other schools under threat.

Pupils will sit GCSEs for the first time in 2017.

Dr Robert Cawley, principal and CEO of The Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, added: “Each of our schools has a shared sense of ambition and a broad and balanced traditional curriculum.

“They are underpinned by strong pastoral care and an exceptional breadth of enrichment activity which challenges each student to aspire to personal and academic goals.

“Our expectations are for each student to make above average progress and achieve to the very highest level in all that they do.”