OFSTED confirms ‘excellence’ at Free School

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Staff, pupils and parents are celebrating news that OFSTED has recognised Bedford Free School (BFS) as a school where “leaders, staff and pupils relentlessly strive for excellence in all that they do.”

The glowing report, published on Thursday, February 13, 2020, confirms BFS overall remains a “good” school with most areas graded as “outstanding”.  In particular, the report praises the school’s ethos and high expectations.

The school, which was recently confirmed as within the top 150 performing secondary schools nationally in the league tables, is celebrating this recognition of its performance.

During the two-day inspection, which took place in January, inspectors visited lessons and spoke to numerous pupils. Inspectors noted: “Leaders’ expectations of staff and pupils are exceptionally high and unyielding. Staff provide the support pupils need to meet these expectations. Pupils value their education and their time at school. They work with exceptional determination to achieve their admirable goals.”

“Leaders and staff are ambitious about developing the most effective teaching practices at the school.”

“Leaders have ensured that teachers understand exactly what pupils need to know and be able to do. This enables teachers to build on what pupils have already learned.”

 “Teachers know their pupils very well. Staff carefully check how well pupils are doing and ensure that they receive effective support when necessary”

“Leaders ensure that the curriculum and teaching meet the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).”

The report also recognises the exceptional behaviour and conduct of pupils, as well as the “highly skilled pastoral staff”:

Inspectors were very impressed with the range of extra-curricular opportunities as well as the school’s PSHE and the wider enrichment offer: “Leaders have designed an impressive curriculum for personal development. Pupils access a very wide range of activities that enrich their learning. They pursue their talents and interests with great enthusiasm.”

“Leaders’ curriculum provides well for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development… Pupils strongly agree that the school encourages them to respect people from differing backgrounds and to treat everyone equally.”

The inspection was carried out under the new, tougher framework for inspecting schools, introduced in September 2019. The school, which is sponsored by Advantage Schools, was previously rated ‘Good’ across all categories by OFSTED in March 2016.

Tim Blake, Principal of BFS, said: “I am delighted with the report which recognises our relentless ambition and commitment to ensuring all pupils fulfil their potential. It praises our powerful culture of high expectations and exceptional standards of behaviour. It acknowledges a strong academic curriculum as well as the fantastic enrichment opportunities on offer at BFS. This is a testament to the hard work of staff and pupils, and the very strong support of our families.”