Free school Ofsted ratings

Opening up Ofsted data on free schools – part three

A completely overhauled front-end (HTML, CSS, JavaScript/D3)

I’ve written previously about the scraper I’ve produced, which grabs Ofsted inspection ratings for open and closed free schools. (See here for a blogpost on the Python back-end, and here for a blogpost on the original front-end.)

Briefly, my reason for doing this was that there’s no easy way to get up-to-date Ofsted ratings for a particular group of schools, such as free schools. And in the absence of a track record of exam results by which to judge the new schools, Ofsted ratings offer one of the few ways we have of assessing how they’re performing.

Opening up Ofsted data on free schools – part two

Updated, 9 May 2015: See bottom of the post for the changes.

This is part two of a pair series of blogposts about scraping free school inspection ratings from the Ofsted website. Part one can be found here. All posts can be found here.

I finished the last blogpost having scraped the Ofsted ratings with Python, using Scraperwiki to turn the data into a JSON API. So, what to do with the output of my scraper?

Well, my ambitions were fairly modest as far as presenting or visualising the data went. For now at least, all I wanted to produce was a basic table of all inspection ratings. Importantly though, it had to update automatically as new schools were inspected and additional ratings came through.

Opening up Ofsted data on free schools – part one

Free school Ofsted ratings - EFS website

Updated, 9 May 2015: See bottom of the post for the changes.

One of the projects I’ve spent quite a bit of time working on over the past year has been the specialist free schools news site I co-founded, EverythingFreeSchools [NB: as of September 2014 this site is no longer live. The free school Ofsted ratings resource I’ve developed can now be found here.] 

The site has performed well, building a regular readership of people with an interest in the policy. And besides the news stories the site has broken, one thing that has proved popular are data resources – such as this look at how many teachers without Qualified Teacher Status each free school used.


Time to introduce something I’ve been working on, and that has been occupying considerable amounts of my time for the last few months. is a news site that I co-founded with a number of others in October last year.

As a site, we cover the Government’s flagship education policy of free schools, and have set out to do so in a way that is balanced and incisive. As well as straight news stories, we’ll also be bringing more analytical pieces, and data-driven stories, trying to understand what impact the policy is having.

The site builds upon my interest in education, and public policy more generally, and it’s been pleasing to see the response it has received so far.

Among other stories, we have broken the news that two former police stations in London are set to become free schools, and dug into number of unqualified teachers which free schools are using.

The site can be found here, and we’re on Twitter as @EFSfreeschools. Do take a look.

Historic transfer of responsibility for schools in Hackney

Mossbourne Community Academy
Mossbourne Community Academy: feted by successive governments for its performance
Image: Fin Fahey

UPDATED: This article was updated on 10 March 2013 to reflect the publication of final GCSE results for 2012 by the Department for Education. The original article referred to the provisional rate of 59.6 per cent of Hackney pupils achieving five good passes (A*-C), including English and maths, but this has been amended to 60.2 per cent to reflect revised Department for Education statistics.

After ten years in the private sector, responsibility for overseeing Hackney’s schools passed back to the council this summer.

Schools have come under the auspices of the Learning Trust Ltd., a not-for-profit limited company, since 2002, when the local authority was stripped of its education responsibilities. The move followed underperformance of the borough’s schools for a number of years.

The transfer of powers on 1 August means the council will again take on the role of supporting and providing guidance for local state schools. The education department will still be known as the Learning Trust, but the transfer has seen several changes at the top of the Trust’s structure.


The ten year period in which the Trust has overseen the borough’s schools has brought significant improvements in exam results. In 2002 the number of A*-C GCSE passes was considerably below the national average at 31.1 per cent, with provisional figures for 2012 showing the borough now to be outperforming the national average: 59.6 per cent 60.2 per cent of students gained five good passes (A*-C including English and maths).