BOURNEMOUTH'S only free school has been rated as "requires improvement" following its first Ofsted inspection.

Terry Conaghan, the principal at Parkfield School, said he was disappointed with the overall grade given to the school but said the report was "80 percent positive" and inspectors had recognised the school's strengths and the constraints they were working under.

The school is currently based in a former office block at the Lansdowne, but is set to move to Bournemouth Airport by this September.

It opened in September 2013 as the area's only free school, which means it is funded directly by the Government and not controlled by the local authority.

It enjoys freedoms state schools do not have, including the right to set its own curriculum, choose its own term dates and set teachers' pay and conditions. Free schools can also employ unqualified teachers.

Ofsted inspectors said behaviour and safety of pupils at Parkfield were "good", but all other categories - leadership and management, quality of teaching, achievement of pupils, early years provision - received the "requires improvement" rating.

Inspectors said pupils' achievement is too variable with some able pupils not fulfilling their potential, that teachers do not always set suitably challenging work, that the youngest children do not have enough opportunities to use outdoor space to support their learning and that the school was sometimes "too generous" in its self-evaluation of teaching and learning.

But they praised Mr Conaghan and the governing body for their "clear vision" for the school and said that standards were rising and achievement is improving.

Inspectors concluded that senior inspectors, governors and staff have the capacity to make the required improvements and said pupils were well behaved and hard working.

Disabled pupils, those with special educational needs and those who are learning English as an additional language receive high quality support and the school is praised for its curriculum, which effectively promotes pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

Mr Conaghan said: "About 80 percent of the report is positive, he could see that we are on the right pathway, that we've got a strong vision and are moving forward.

"We have had three monitoring visits from the Department from Education since opening in September 2013. They are Ofsted inspectors and every time we've done joint lesson observations with them they felt we were accurate in our assessments.

"It's still early days for the school. We've only been open 18 months and we opened with nearly 300 students across eight year groups.

"It's been a really exciting challenge but a big job as well and we acknowledge there is still work to be done."