A SECOND free school in the region has been placed into special measures just a day after news that Durham Free School is to close following a damning Ofsted report.

Inspectors from the education watchdog said Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland, the city's only free school, is inadequate and needs to urgently improve the quality and impact of leaders.

The report into the Nookside school found the leadership and management, behaviour and safety of pupils and sixth form provision were all inadequate while improvement was required in the quality of teaching, achievement of pupils and early years provision.

In their report, inspectors said: "Leaders do not have effective systems in place to ensure that the much needed actions to improve teaching and pupils’ achievement can be implemented swiftly.

"Pupils are not adequately safeguarded. 

"The curriculum does not adequately prepare pupils for life in modern Britain. Pupils show a lack of respect and tolerance towards those who belong to different faiths, cultures or communities.

Also under attack were recruitment procedures which were found to be "lax" with many appointments made "without fair and open competition". 

The school is accused of not tackling effectively enough prejudice-based bullying and that discrimination through racist or homophobic language persists.

The report raises concerns about the progress of pupils, stating: "Leaders have failed to address weaknesses in pupils’ writing. There is no whole-school strategy to support those who have underachieved.

"Teachers do not always demonstrate high enough expectations of what pupils can achieve. The most able pupils often go unchallenged and consequently, too many do not achieve as highly as they should.

"Behaviour requires improvement. Pupils swing on their chairs, talk to their friends or generally waste time when tasks are not pitched at the correct level for their differing abilities.

"Children in the early years do not make as much progress as they should. Activities do not consistently offer enough challenge to capitalise on their typical and above typical starting points.

"Leadership of the sixth form is weak. Too many pupils underachieve given their starting points at the end of Key Stage 4."

In a statement on the school's website, headteacher Chris Gray, who recently made a complaint to Ofsted about the "hostile"  questioning of pupils said the report was a "huge shock" to its parents, pupils and staff.

He said: "To issue a report that grades the best performing secondary state-funded school in Sunderland (latest published GCSE results) as the worst defies all common sense and logic."