Ixworth Free School told to improve by Ofsted after first inspection

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Ixworth Free School has been rated as ‘requires improvement’ in its first Ofsted inspection.

The education watchdog ruled that leaders, including trustees, at the school, which opened in September 2014, have ‘not ensured that pupils make good progress’.

The school, which is part of the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, said it is ‘disappointed’ with the outcome but ‘determined to improve’.

Inspectors found that the ‘quality of teaching varies too widely’, ‘teachers do not make regular checks in lessons so pupils’ work is often poorly presented or left incomplete’ and ‘too many pupils are persistently absent’.

Judging the school as ‘requires improvement’ across all key areas, they said while leaders have established a new school that ‘meets some of the aims of its local community, they have been less effective in attracting and retaining enough pupils to have the resources they need to build capacity and lead further improvement’.

The school, in Walsham Road, will have 265 pupils next term and has a capacity for 600.

They added that changes in staffing and difficulties in recruiting new staff have ‘hampered the school’s development’.

Ofsted noted that until recently the pupil premium was used to improve the progress and welfare of all pupils but this approach ‘has not ensured all disadvantaged pupils achieve well enough, or attend regularly’.

Among the school’s strengths, inspectors noted that leaders have ‘met their aim of setting up a new school that provides pupils with a rich, stimulating environment in which to learn’.

They said that ‘teaching in a range of foundation subjects leads to good progress being made’.

A wide range of enrichment activities including clubs, off-site visits and careers events are ‘valued highly by pupils’ and the school is a ‘safe, friendly and enjoyable place to be’.

On how the school can improve, Ofsted said work should be provided that is ‘suitably challenging for pupils of all abilities’ and it needed to ensure all pupils acquire ‘essential, basic skills’ in reading, writing, spelling and the use of grammar.

Headteacher Niki King said: “We wrote to parents earlier this week regarding the inspection report and offered the opportunity to meet, which a small number did and were very appreciative of the opportunity. We’ve also received some very supportive comments from parents.”

She added that new headteacher Mark Barrow, who starts in September, will ‘continue to address the areas of improvement’.