Reasons for the refusal by the DfE

I have asked the Free school Initiative group about the reasons for the failure of their bid in June. The person on facebook has agreed to provide a synopsis of their letter from the DfE;

OK sure, will put together a little synopsis of what feedback we did have – there is nothing too specific but we don’t mind sharing it. From memory our governance structure was too broad and we needed a little more information on what some of our classes entailed ie. more in depth curriculum points and more in depth information on pupil ambition and targets. That is why it is difficult to say why we were not granted the school first time around.”

Also the following response when I asked about whether the group would be recycling signatures from the first attempt (many of these parents will have gone elsewhere now) or whether they will start canvasing support again.

We’re not including anyone who has asked to be removed from the list as that would be clearly unethical. I can’t really answer the reason as to the failure of the first application. The government is not always expressly clear but we have worked really hard to improve any aspect of the application that we thought might need improvement so here’s to the next round and may we bring Stroud the school so many people clearly want.”

“The government is not always expressly clear” – what? In a letter sent expressly to tell a group why their application failed? Is that what parents who supported the bid have been told? I assume they have each been told something individually, because nothing has appeared on their website about the reasons.

I pointed out to the group (they thanked me for my awareness and concern) that the Teign Steiner Initiative were asked to work on their stats in order to re-apply. Teign say on their fb page ;

” …an opening date of 2016 would require work around our stats. All stats and projected pupil numbers for the initial application were based on 2015 figures, so work would need to be done to draw out new figures for 2016. It certainly isn’t impossible, but we simply feel too overstretched to achieve the changes necessary in the time available

The Teign group say they decided not to re-apply straight away partly because of all the work involved. The Stroud group would need to do this work too, surely?

In reply I was told that since the Stroud bid got to the interview stage the new stats would not be necessary. Really? How odd. Interestingly the Teign group say they were also asked to provide a more in depth description of the act of daily worship in their proposed Steiner school. That would be an interesting description.

The DfE have begun proactively releasing details of some free school applications following the Freedom of Information request by Laura McInerney; a long overdue move that would enable local people to know more about the kind of schools being approved. This kind of transparency is essential in the decision making on state-funded education.





  1. Helen

    Latest reply from the Steiner initiative group on facebook;
    “I’m sorry we are actually putting all our efforts into the application at the moment – we did not have feedback like Teign but had a few comments of which we have already posted. We actually only had a very short list of bullet points which I have already mentioned. Sorry to disappoint. Leading the bid are education professionals who are not parents to children they want to see in Steiner school but rather educationalists wishing to see a different type of education available to all. Parents make up some of the core group.”

    This initiative is billed as “parent and teacher led” – seems to me it is entirely led by Steiner “mentors”. The parents seem to know very little about the bid.
    The “educationalists” will be the mentors insisted on by the SWSF I guess
    I simply do not believe that the group were not given feedback – the DfE PROMISE feedback in their guidance. It is possible the parents in the core group have not even seen the letter…

  2. we escaped!

    If this is truly the case, then this is very good evidence of the ignorance of the educationalists leading this bid. Im pretty sure that these educationalists are fully aware of anthroposophy and steiner education, exactly the same as ofsted and the DfE and the ISI.

    I do not think its common knowledge that these schools have special treatment. The ofsted reports are not to be trusted, as steiner schools have different measures in place and cannot be compared to regular mainstream results. Steiner schools are granted special privileges and are exempt of the mandatory checks that mainstream have to abide by. The independent school inspectors are run by steiner people that are fully aware of anthroposophy. Why is that fair? Why weren’t we aware of this? We only know about this because of our appalling experience. If you complain to ofsted and DfE, they cant help you, because these schools are not regulated properly, and they have no power to do anything about it!

    Disgraceful. But this blog is evidence and the DfE need to be held accountable.

    • Helen

      Unfortunately there is a cloak of respectability draped over the shoulders of Steiner Academies – trust on the part of parents that the government would not allow “bad” schools to open or operate. This trust is misplaced, sadly, as the recently released documents showing what the DfE tried to hide reveal.

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