A Steiner free school which was judged to be “inadequate” by Ofsted is to be moved under the control of a “strong” multi-academy trust, the DfE has said.
As reported in Tes, Steiner Academy Exeter was temporarily shut following an Ofsted inspection in October, which raised concerns about safeguarding, governance and provision for children with special educational needs.
The DfE has now followed its earlier "minded to terminate" letter with a Termination Warning Notice in which Lisa Mannall, regional schools commissioner for the South West says: “I am minded to terminate the funding agreement of the academy and transfer the school to a strong multi-academy trust that can provide the capacity for continued improvement.”
The letter states the DfE will help the school find such a trust, and in the meantime that the school will work with the nearby Ted Wragg MAT (TWMAT) which will "support its leadership team to secure improvement".
The Steiner Academy Exeter is an all-ages free school that opened in 2013 as part of a fellowship of Steiner schools around the country which are influenced by the philosophy of Austrian educationalist Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) who developed a spiritual science known as anthroposophy.
However, the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship has said its schools do not teach this.
On its website, the Steiner Academy Exeter describes itself as being at "the cutting edge of delivering the Steiner Waldorf curriculum in the state-funded sector".
The Ofsted report identified a number of problems including that school leaders had “failed to ensure the safety and well-being of pupils” and that “leadership is dysfunctional at all levels of the school.”
Writing in the school’s newsletter last week, acting principal Paul Hougham said a high volume of email traffic and conversations of concern had followed from some parents' “lack of trust in the recent quality of education” and the “shock” of the Ofsted report.
But he said: “With support from both Ted Wragg Trust and Babcock LDP [an education improvement service] alongside Steiner Waldorf educationalists, we are already well on the way to establishing shared benchmarks of excellence. The detail of daily routines as well as teaching and learning methods I need to leave with teachers’ autonomy and their collective discussions on best practice that are currently under high levels of scrutiny.”
In making the decision on whether to terminate the funding agreement, the DfE says it will consider any written representations the school wishes to make.
The school will meet with DfE officials again on December 13