One failure can't bring free schools down

25th October 2013 at 01:00

The failure of Al-Madinah School in Derby - which has been strongly criticised in a report by schools inspectorate for England Ofsted - is not down to the free school programme. It is down to the fact that all those involved have created an institution that is not good enough. As a headteacher of an outstanding academy, who has just opened a free school in Chester and also works as an Ofsted inspector, I am mystified as to why the media feel that this school failed because it was part of a programme that they suggest is somehow aimed at undermining education. Free schools are a vital part of cultural change. For too long mediocrity has been accepted, satisfactory has been OK. Outstanding education is a right and not a privilege, and the free school programme aims to break up the divide between state and private education, ensuring that all parents have a choice of outstanding provision for their children. The question to be asked is not why did this school fail but why aren't all schools outstanding? If this was the case we would not need free schools and education would be a truly open-access resource that allowed everyone the chance to excel.

Steve Docking, Director of St Martin's Academy Chester, headteacher of the Delamere Church of England Academy, Ofsted inspector.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today