Eastbourne’s Gildredge House free school receives its first Ofsted report

Gildredge House SUS-150630-093701001
Gildredge House SUS-150630-093701001

Gildredge House, the town’s free school, has been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in its first report.

The school, which opened less than two years ago, received the top grade in all five inspection categories: overall effectiveness, leadership and management, behaviour and safety of pupils, quality of teaching, achievement of pupils and early years provision.

I am immensely proud of our achievement and grateful to those parents who took a leap of faith to support us two years ago

Head teacher Lea Gilbert

The state-funded, all-through (four-19) free school was founded by a group including local parents and community members.

Head teacher Lea Gilbert said, “I am thrilled that Ofsted has endorsed our high standards and recognised the hard work and dedication of our entire team, including our wider proposing group, who have made Gildredge House the success that it is.

“Our governors, staff and students are well aware of our school motto: ‘Aspire’. We are all striving to be the best that we can be.

“I am immensely proud of our achievement and grateful to those parents who took a leap of faith to support us two years ago.”

Following the two-day inspection earlier this month, lead inspector Dr Simon Hughes HMI said Mrs Gilbert was “an outstanding leader” who has “built a vibrant and inspiring learning community from the ground up and in record time”.

He added staff are “extremely well qualified and those joining in September have similarly high levels of expertise and experience”.

Inspectors also noted, “Together with the leadership team and a highly professional set of governors, the Trust has created a unique ‘Gildredge ethos’ that is enabling all students to enjoy learning, make rapid progress and achieve well” and that “students love the school and are extremely proud to wear its uniform.”

Sport and games provision was also praised by inspectors who said, “Teachers help each student find a sport to suit them. Ninety per cent of middle school students represent the school competitively.

“They are learning, therefore, how to co-operate and act as a team. Alongside this they are developing healthy lifestyles and appropriate attitudes such as fair play and to respect the decisions of referees and umpires.

“All of this will prepare them well for the next stages of their life, work or further study.”

Chair of Governors Linda Caroe said, “We understand and appreciate everyone’s commitment to making Gildredge House a great place for students to fulfil their aspirations.

“We are delighted that Ofsted has rated our school ‘Outstanding’ in all areas. We are immensely proud of this achievement, and we all look forward to building on this firm foundation of success.”

“We would like to pay particular tribute to all the volunteers and members of the community in general who have engaged with us and supported our school.

“The response has been fantastic. We have started to enjoy working in partnership with other schools and hope to build further relationships within our educational community.”

The school, which currently has Reception, Year 1, Year 7 and Year 8 classes, is opening its new Sixth Form Centre this September.

Mrs Gilbert added, “Currently, students living in Eastbourne travel over 20 miles to access outstanding state-funded Sixth Form provision.

“We are proud to be able to offer a rich and stimulating environment for rigorous, disciplined and enjoyable Sixth Form study with a balanced programme of A Levels at its heart within our town. We have recruited a phenomenal team of Sixth Form teachers and we want our students to ‘Aspire’ as much in their behaviour and approach to life as in their academic studies.”

Gildredge House’s ‘Outstanding’ grade means that 11 out of the 13 – almost 85% – of all-through free schools have been judged ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ in their first Ofsted inspection.

Sarah Pearson, interim director of New Schools Network, said, “This fantastic result shows just how hard Gildredge House have worked since they opened in 2013.

“There are now more than 400 free schools opened or approved to open in England. With the Government committing to open another 500 new schools this is an exciting time and we hope more groups like Gildredge House will come forward with the expertise and passion to improve education for children in their local community.”

Sixth Form places are still available on certain A Level courses. For more information contact a member of the school’s Sixth Form Outreach Team on 400650.

Further information is available at www.gildredgehouse.org.uk.

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