CET Primary Tower Hamlets hits back at its founder’s attack on free schools

One of the first free independent primary schools in London’s East End has hit back at criticism in the national press from its own founder who claimed that the government’s flagship education policy lacked “joined-up thinking.”

Ronda Fogel made her outspoken comments in an interview in which she described an Ofsted report into Mile End’s CET Primary School Tower Hamlets as “disastrous.”

She doubted that free schools could survive by themselves and needed the local authority or academy trusts for help.

Mrs Fogel is executive director of the Constable Educational Trust, which originally set up the school in temporary premises at the Kirtland Centre in Coborn Street in 2012 and another school in Paddington.

Within six months of opening “it became it clear it wasn’t working,” she said, because of a lack of support which had been a major problem.

The government wasn’t helping enough and there was “no joined up thinking” with free schools, she told TES, which were being opened on a tight budget and there was little room for manoeuvre.

The Mile End school was struggling which resulting in its poor Ofsted report.

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Ofsted said last month the school “required improvement” because it had not secured good teaching. Most teachers were inexperienced and unable to lead strategic areas which limited the school’s capacity “to improve as rapidly as it should”.

But Ronda Fogel was accused this week in a statement to the Advertiser of not being fair to the school by her public comments.

“Mrs Fogel does an extreme disservice to her former colleagues and the highly-committed and dedicated staff,” CET Primary Schools chairman Richard Simmons said.

“She described the Ofsted report as ‘disastrous’—it was disappointing, but not unexpected, given the early development and the inadequate temporary premises which placed huge demands on staff.”

He added: “Her criticism of the Department for Education is misplaced. The main reasons for delay securing permanent premises in Tower Hamlets were difficulties at the local political level.”

The educational trust continues to sponsor CET Primary Schools. Mrs Fogel was a director until she resigned in December, but continues as a member of the trust.