Bedford Free School ‘striving for excellence’ recognised by OFSTED

Bedford Free School pupils celebrate their 'outstanding' Ofsted rating

Bedford Free School (BFS) staff, pupils and parents are celebrating following OFSTED’s recognition that the school is a place where “…leaders, staff and pupils relentlessly strive for excellence in all that they do.”

The report, published on Thursday 13 February, 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 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”:

“Pupils told us that joining this school has transformed the way they behave. They say that they now can do well in education and have improved life chances.”

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.”

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.”

Nigel Syson, Chair of Governors, said, “This inspection confirms the governors’ view that Bedford Free School is a remarkable school.

“On behalf of the governors, I would like to thank the staff and parents for the incredible work that goes into ensuring such an excellent quality of education and personal enrichment is available to the pupils of BFS.

“I wish to pay particular tribute to Mr Blake, the Principal, and his leadership team, as well as staff for their relentless drive and ambition to ensure all pupils receive a phenomenal education. “

Stuart Lock, Chief Executive Officer of Advantage Schools, said, “The pupils, families, staff and leaders at BFS can rightly be proud of their achievements, confirmed by OFSTED. The culture of excellence and attention to detail that is typical of those that work at BFS is truly inspirational.

“Everything that they do is for the benefit of our pupils and I am so pleased that OFSTED have recognised this during their visit.”

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