Controversial Finsbury free school slammed in Ofsted report

Stem Academy, in City Road, was rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted

Stem Academy, in City Road, was rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted - Credit: Archant

A controversial free school has been slammed by a damning Ofsted report giving it the worst rating in every single category.

Ken Muller: 'We take no pleasure in being vindicated'

Ken Muller: 'We take no pleasure in being vindicated' - Credit: Archant

Stem 6 Academy, in City Road, Finsbury, a tertiary college for 16 to 19-year-olds, was judged “inadequate” in all four of the education watchdog’s criteria.

Overall effectiveness, outcomes for learners, quality of teaching, learning and assessment and effectiveness of leadership and management were all given the worst possible ranking following an inspection at the end of January.

Ken Muller, from Islington National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “We take no pleasure in being vindicated.

“The victims of any inadequacies correctly identified by Ofsted – and the damaging which inevitably follow an inspection failure – will first of all be the students and then the school teaching and support staff, who were provided with patently inadequate support by school governors and senior management.

“The best way for STEM 6 to get the support and guidance that has been lacking up to now would be for it to be taken over and run either by Islington local authority – whose schools are all either “good” or “outstanding”, according to Ofsted – or by the Ofsted-rated outstanding City and Islington Sixth Form College.

“David Cameron, Michael Gove and his successor, Nicky Morgan, have always exerted usually irresistible pressure on “failing” community schools to become academies run by private sponsors.

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“Now that a flagship free school has found to be failing, surely the right thing to do is to bring it into a very successful local authority family of schools or integrate it with a nearby mainstream sixth form college with a proven record of success.”

Free schools are set up by groups of parents, teachers, charities, businesses, universities, trusts, religious or voluntary groups.

They are funded directly by central Government, rather than the local authority, and they don’t have to teach the national curriculum.

Stem 6 hit the headlines last year when a strike over alleged “zero-hours” contracts was averted at the last minute.

Virginie Ramond, chair of trustees, at the STEM Academy Education Trust, said the trust was “disappointed”.

She added: “Since January’s inspection we have continued to make considerable changes and improvements, including the development of a robust post-inspection action plan which has been accepted by both Ofsted and the Department for Education (DfE).

“An organisational restructure is also underway and we have had valuable support and challenge from Ofsted and the DfE during this process. We have received positive feedback on the progress made at the academy in such a short period of time and are seeing our students making good progress towards their exam results this year.

“The Trust is confident that the steps we have taken will continue to bring about the necessary improvements needed to address the challenges highlighted in Ofsted’s report.”