Press Release

Gildredge House rated 'Outstanding' by Ofsted

Monday 29 June 2015

Ofsted inspectors have rated East Sussex’s first free school, Gildredge House in Eastbourne, as ‘Outstanding’ in all five inspection categories including early years provision, less than two years after it opened.

The state-funded, all-through (4-19) free school was founded by a group including local parents and community members to fulfil the need and demand for school places in the town and aims for all students to be cooperative, confident, ambitious and successful regardless of their background. The school offers a traditional curriculum, smaller class sizes and an extended school day, with a rich array of extra-curricular activities and supervised prep.

Head Teacher, Mrs 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 recognised Mrs Gilbert as “an outstanding leader” who has “built a vibrant and inspiring learning community from the ground up and in record time” and the staff as “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 wrote: “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, Mrs 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."

Mrs Caroe added: “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 heavily over-subscribed school, which currently has Reception, Year 1, Year 7 and Year 8 classes, is opening its brand 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 and prospective parents and students wishing to find out more about joining Gildredge House’s Sixth Form in Year 12 this September are invited to contact a member of the school’s Sixth Form Outreach Team on 01323 400650.

Full Ofsted Report Available Here

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