Nishkam Free School fails Ofsted

The Nishkam primary free school ‘requires improvement’

The Nishkam primary ‘free school’ in Handsworth, Birmingham’s first free school,  opened in September 2011. It claims on its website that ‘The primary purpose of the school is the drive for academic excellence. This is exceptionally important in our aspirations for pupils to exceed national standards.’

AABA campaigned against the free school opening. Now we have been proved right. The Nishkam school has just comprehensively failed its Ofsted inspection.

It rated Nishkam Primary as ‘requiring improvement’ in all of the main areas – achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils, and leadership and management. (Birmingham Mail report, 20 July).  The report concluded that the school needed to raise standards because ‘there is not enough teaching which is good enough to enable pupils to learn as quickly as they should’.  Inspectors were also critical of the school’s leadership, saying leaders and governors did not have a clear understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses.

That last comment was vividly confirmed by the bizarre response of headteacher Damian McBeath to the report. With the aplomb of an alchemist believing he has turned lead into gold, he said: “We are delighted that the hard work and dedication of staff, parents and pupils have been recognised by Ofsted. The academy has only been open since September 2011 and from the outset, we have focused on delivering the highest-quality education for our pupils.’

In fact what makes the school’s failure all the more unacceptable is that Nishkam creams off children from the better-off homes in the area, taking a much lower proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals than other local schools, giving it statistically a huge advantage. In 2012 just 6.4% of children were eligible for free lunches. But the average figure for the 18 primary schools in Handsworth was 43.5% and the figure for St Michael’s, the school next door to Nishkam, was 47%.

Nishkam should be a warning to parents in Birmingham – say no to free schools, support your local authority schools.


  1. john

    always take offsted with a pinch of salt. the inspectors refused to look at projected KS1 results for 2013. An independent ofsted inspection gave the school excellent in only Jan 2013 – 4 months earlier. Consequently in the June KS1 results – approx 30% of the pupils achieved level 3c – which is the highest achievable (4 weeks after the inspection).The rest were mostly 2b’s and a small proportion of 2a’s. A school should be judged by hard results. 30% level 3c in KS1 aint so bad.

  2. Row berry jones

    It was destined to fail, as there was no strategic agenda, teachers employed were not aware of their time tables it was; to my knowledge, was running on ‘daily routine’ ,’we will see how we go today’. How on earth one can create a solid learning environment when there no strategic planning, young people are our future, it is great unfairness to them, they are the one one who have lost out on good foundations to learning and parents need to ‘apply no confidence vote’ and withdraw children, admit them in outstanding schools where, ‘learning is the core’, ‘ heart of matter’, ‘pupils achieve because teachers and SLT ensure that Learning takes place, ‘where Governors are active, question, observe, support staff, pupils and parents and work with the Stake Holders, transparency; at Nishkam there was none. I know someone wasted a day when went for interview, without any programme, pay scale, job responsibility!!!!!! ‘ one can not call that a school’ . It is complete waste of funds and need to shut now to save the future for those vulnerable students.

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