Improvement plans ‘not fit for purpose’

Improvement plans ‘not fit for purpose’

Birmingham schools named in the Trojan Horse scandal have brought in new turnaround plans, following sharp criticism from Ofsted.

The five schools had unannounced monitoring inspections last month, after being placed in special measures earlier this year. Up to two days’ notice is normally given for first monitoring visits.

In all five cases, improvement plans were judged to be not fit for purpose, with changes to governance and leadership slow. Ofsted also said there had been “very little change” in the “unbalanced” curriculum offered at the schools.

The schools inspected were Golden Hillock School, Nansen Primary School and Park View Academy — all part of Park View Educational Trust – and Oldknow Academy and Saltley School.

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw was personally involved in the inspection of Park View.

New improvement plans have now been produced for some of the schools. In a letter to parents published on its website, Park View Education Trust said: “Within 48 hours of the monitoring visit, the trust had created a new interim improvement plan which was put in place immediately to replace the previous ones.”

At Saltley School, the only maintained school of the five, there was disagreement about the inspection.

Birmingham City Council said that a new action plan for the school, sent to Ofsted before the inspection, had not been considered.

Councillor Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children and family services, said: “We had actually sent a new action plan for this school before Ofsted came, but for some reason Ofsted did not read it and instead reported on the old one.”

The inspectorate, however, said that it was not given a new plan before the inspection. A spokesperson said: “The local authority had not submitted an original plan in advance of the inspection.

“Ofsted was given the most up-to-date plan on the morning of inspection. However, senior leaders at the school had decided that the plan needed to change quite dramatically and had just started this process.

“Therefore, it was not fit for purpose. The local authority was informed of this at the time and had accepted the decision.”

Oldknow did not respond to a request for comment.

The inspections were carried out between September 8 and 12 – with both Birmingham City Council and the Department for Education (DfE) highlighting in statements that this was only a matter of days into the new school year.

In an education select committee on Wednesday, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan (pictured) said that DfE officials had been into the schools since the inspections and that “huge improvements” had been noted.

Birmingham City Council was also singled out for criticism in an advice note produced by Ofsted that accompanied the inspection reports. The inspectorate said the council had yet to share an integrated plan setting out how it was responding to issues that the affair had raised.

The council said that this had now been produced, but needed to be signed off by the education commissioner for Birmingham, who only started in post two weeks ago.

Speaking to Schools Week, Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt said that the Birmingham findings exposed “systematic failure” in government policy.

“It is not feasible for eight regional school commissioners each to monitor and support 2,500 schools,” he said.

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