Steiner Schools Foundation

Department for Education written question – answered at on 21 November 2022.

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Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will make an assessment of the (a) accountability, (b) transparency, (c) cost to the public purse and (d) sustainability of the Steiner free schools and academies in (i) the South West and (ii) other regions.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Department holds all academies and free schools to account through a common framework of statutory obligations and school funding agreements. Funding agreements are published transparently on school and trust websites and GOV.UK.

There are currently no open Steiner free schools or academies in the South West. Three Steiner academies were opened in the South West between 2012 and 2014, in Bristol, Frome and Exeter, as part of the free schools programme. In 2018 and 2019, Ofsted found all three schools to be Inadequate and require special measures.

The Department takes robust intervention action in schools with serious failings. The Department subsequently removed control of these schools from those accountable for their failure and transferred all three to Avanti Schools Trust in November 2019. The schools no longer operate with a Steiner ethos and have been renamed. Avanti Hall School (previously Steiner Academy Exeter) performed above the local and national average in 2022 by the Key Stage 4 progress measure.

The Department publishes the total capital cost of completed free schools where all works are completed, and the costs are no longer commercially sensitive. For Steiner Academy Exeter, the total capital costs of site acquisition and construction were £12,072,656.52. The costs of constructing the academies in Bristol and Frome have not yet been released. All academies and free schools receive annual revenue funding in line with the National Funding Formula.

The Department continues to maintain the Steiner Academy Hereford, which is not a free school, in the West Midlands. The school is judged Good by Ofsted and performs above the local and national averages by the Key Stage 4 progress measure.

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