AET warned over standards at another of its schools

One of the country’s biggest academy trusts has been warned over standards at another of its schools following concerns about pupils safety and teaching quality.

The Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) received a minded to terminate letter regarding Four Dwellings Primary Academy in Birmingham – raising questions about the trust’s turnaround.

Chairman David Hall received the letter in November following an Ofsted inspection in July which judged the school to be ‘inadequate’ and requiring significant improvement.

The minded to terminate notice is the first step in a process which could see the school change hands if no improvement is seen either in the school’s outcomes or its Ofsted rating.

Andrew Warren, West Midlands regional schools commissioner warned funding “may be terminated” as the inspection found a series of problems.

These included leaders’ failure to address weaknesses in attendance and behaviour – with children left feeling unsafe at school and parents and carers unhappy with the leadership of the school.

Pupils did not make good progress due to teachers failing to “provide work that matches some pupils” and teachers did not receive feedback which would improve their teaching.

In 2013, the trust was banned from taking over any more schools after it was deemed to have grown too quickly and was not adequately running its schools.

But in July 2017 its financial notice to improve was removed and the trust was once again allowed to take on primary schools.

AET agreed to give up two of its schools – Felixstowe Academy and Langer Primary – in 2018 following ‘inadequate’ ratings and local pressure.

And last year the trust received two school improvement warnings in quick succession due to falling standards.

However just last week, when welcoming deputy Ofsted director Matthew Purvey to AET’s senior team, chief executive Julian Drinkall, said the trust was “going from strength to strength”.

A spokesperson for AET said it recognised the challenges but already has “a clear and rigorous plan of action in place that is already having an impact”.

“This includes the appointment of an exceptional executive headteacher and additional support for inclusion and curriculum from our specialist experts. We are confident that the academy is getting back on track so that we can deliver on our promise of an education that helps children go on to lead remarkable lives.”

Elsewhere, The David Ross Education Trust was handed a pre-termination warning notice after Ofsted confirmed Wold Academy in Hull was judged to be inadequate the previous month.

The watchdog found standards had “declined considerably” since the previous year and “pupils often have misconceptions and gaps in their knowledge”.

The inspector also noted “pupils’ behaviour creates a boisterous atmosphere” and their work is “not always well presented”.

Moving forward John Edwards, regional schools commissioner for East Midlands and Humber, will review the school’s post-Ofsted action plan to “ensure that the trust have the capacity to bring about the necessary changes”.

Edwards added: “If we are not satisfied this can be achieved, we will consider issuing a termination warning notice.”

In total The DfE today published five notices, which also included a minded to terminate letter to Collective Vision Trust, and termination warning notices to Advance Trust and Buckler’s Mead Academy.

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    • Correction: Buckler’s Mead received their letter on 8 January. This suggests either undue haste in this case, foot-dragging with the others or delays in RSCs sending letters to ESFA.
      Whatever the reason, it suggests inconsistency and raises the question of how many more such letters still remain unpublished.