Christian free school labelled ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted

Christian free school labelled 'inadequate' by Ofsted

A Christian free school has been rated inadequate by Ofsted, less than three weeks after it was issued with a warning over its finances. 

Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland – previously a private school, now a state-funded free school – has published the damning report on its website, despite the fact the watchdog is yet to release the document.

The report grades the school as inadequate for leadership and management, behaviour and safety of pupils and its sixth form, while it says the quality of teaching, achievement of pupils and early years provision all require improvement.

Principal, Chris Gray, has accused Ofsted and the Department for Education of “playing politics” over British values and sent an official complaint to Ofsted about the November inspection.

In it he claimed the nature of the inspection was “hostile”, “inappropriate”, and raised “serious safeguarding issues”. In a letter to parents he stated that the outcome “defies all common sense and logic”.

Grindon Hall, which opened in 2012, was issued with a financial notice of concern by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) on Monday January 5 after pleading for support from the Agency following a failure to balance its budget.

The inspection report, which claims the school needs to be placed in special measures, criticises Grindon Hall for ineffective improvement systems, inadequate safeguarding, a curriculum which “does not adequately prepare pupils for life in modern Britain” and claims pupils “show a lack of respect and tolerance towards those who belong to different faiths, cultures or communities”.

In his statement, Mr Gray said: “We are grateful for the many messages of support that we have received from our pupils and parents, and from people around the country.

“The Ofsted report issued to us today will come as a huge shock to our parents, pupils and staff because they – along with anyone who knows us – will not recognise the school portrayed there.

“It is now well known that the manner in which inspectors questioned our pupils in November was hostile, inappropriate and raises serious safeguarding issues. Despite raising these concerns more than a month ago we have yet to receive any response from Ofsted.

“To issue a report that grades the best performing secondary state-funded school in Sunderland (latest published GCSE results) as the worst defies all common sense and logic.

“Pupils, parents and staff are deeply concerned that, because of the widely reported breakdown of trust between the Department for Education (DfE) and Ofsted, schools like Grindon Hall are being caught in the crossfire.

“Playing politics with the new regulations on “British values” is not acceptable and does little to help our children prepare for life or achieve good exam results.”

An Ofsted spokesperson said it was against the watchdog’s policy to comment on inspection reports which had not yet been published.