Ofsted criticises effectiveness of some prominent multi academy trusts
March 17, 2016
Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has written an advice note for the Secretary of State, outlining the findings from eight focused inspections of academies in multi academy trusts (MATs) over the past year. This includes a focused inspection for which the outcome letter was published on 8 March of School Partnership Trust Academies (SPTA).
The findings across the eight focused inspections are described as “worrying”, highlighting “serious weaknesses that were contributing to poor progress and outcomes for too many pupils”. Several of these related to failures of governance:
Confusion over governance structures and failure to publish schemes of delegation
Insufficient challenge from governors and trustees to information presented by senior leaders, leading to inflated views of quality of teaching
A lack of strategic oversight
A lack of urgency to tackle weak leadership at senior and middle levels
Attainment and progress of disadvantaged pupils is highlighted as a major area of concern. The advice note also draws attention to the financial management of the inspected MATs, particularly high salaries paid to chief executives, large cash reserves, and expenditure on consultants “to compensate for deficits in leadership”. The note acknowledges that the MATs chosen for inspection have been those causing Ofsted the most concern and that some other MATs are effectively driving improvement in their schools. Nevertheless, it says that “many of the trusts manifested the same weaknesses as the worst performing local authorities”.
MAT governance is one of the areas of focus for NGA both in terms of guidance and consultancy. For guidance on good practice, see our Introduction to multi academy trusts and recent Governing Matters article: MATs and Schemes of Delegation.