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News - 23 January 2015

Academy chains to be inspected but not judged by Ofsted

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has after months of wrangling between the department and Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw said the inspectorate should be able to publish information about the performance of academy chains.

Sir Michael has asked repeatedly last year to be given explicit powers to inspect the head offices of academy chains, in the same way that Ofsted can look at local council children's services.

But Mrs Morgan, and her predecessor Michael Gove, had argued that Ofsted did not need to be given additional rights to examine the overall management of these groups.

Setting out new rules for academy trust inspections in a letter, Mrs Morgan said that the watchdog should continue to conduct "batch" inspections of academies that are all run by the same trust, and they should meet with staff from multi-academy trusts shortly after inspections have taken place.

She said: "They should share and discuss the evidence already gathered and collect and consider further evidence to demonstrate the impact of the MAT's work with its academies. It should also consider the arrangements the MAT has made for the effective overseeing, challenge and support of individual academies. Inspectors would then be able to draw together the range of evidence and make a balanced assessment of the work of the chain with the academies inspected."

Liz Kennett, Audit and Accounts Manager of ABDS, and a Schools and Charities specialist comments:
“The Education Secretary said that she was pleased that Sir Michael agreed to a simple "binary judgment of the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the MAT is inappropriate". This would not increase the overall powers of Ofsted.”

Ofsted has attempted in the past to raise concerns over Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) by publishing inspection reports of schools run by the same chain grouped together.

In total, it has issued critical letters to four different academy chains - the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), School Partnership Trust Academies (SPTA), Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT) and the E-ACT Trust - after inspecting some of their schools.

If you need any help and advice with Free Schools, Academy Schools or Charities, contact Lavinia Newman, Peter Ham or Liz Kennett now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail: abds@netaccountants.net

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Great with people  
Clear and precise with advice
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In touch with issues that face our clients and
mindful of their long term strategic goals

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