Matchmaker trusts to help DfE improvement drive

Seven institutions awarded £646k contract to broker support for struggling schools

Seven institutions awarded £646k contract to broker support for struggling schools

11 Oct 2022, 16:25

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The DfE has confirmed the names of nine trusts and schools who will support schools struggling with Ofsted ratings

Seven matchmaker academy trusts will help hook up struggling schools with leading CEOs as part of the government’s new improvement drive.

Details of the £646,225 contract for the 2022-23 trust and school improvement offer, including the names of the successful trusts and schools who will help to deliver it, were published last week.

The scheme has been rolled out as part of the government’s plan to deliver on its schools white paper, which proposed new powers to force maintained and academy schools with two consecutive Ofsted ratings below ‘good’ to convert or change trusts.

Under the offer, which was announced last year, single schools that receive a ‘requires improvement’ (RI) judgment from Ofsted this academic year will be eligible for support to improve.

Multi-academy trusts with an “overall decline” in Ofsted judgements among its schools, or where at least half of schools have an RI rating, will also be eligible for help.

They will receive 10 days of support and advice from a system leader – usually the CEO of a “strong” MAT – or a national leader of education (NLE).

The Regional Development Partners (RDPs) will be responsible for “brokering effective matches between system leaders and schools and trusts eligible for support” in their region (see full list below).

Struggling schools and trusts will be contacted by the department if they become eligible. Local authorities, where schools are maintained, or a diocese, where schools are diocesan, will be informed about the support.

Leaders will assess if struggling school should join MAT

Government said the support will help schools improve the quality of leadership and governance, plan to address areas identified as needing improvement by Ofsted, ensure a “high-quality curriculum” and signpost schools to “key programmes of support” such as the National Tutoring Programme.

It is understood that as well as identifying short-term improvements, system leaders will also assess if struggling schools and academies should join a MAT.

Ofsted is currently accelerating the rate of inspections, with a pledge to inspect all schools by summer 2025 to give a quicker assessment of how education is recovering from the pandemic.

But while that means there could be a greater quantity of schools with an RI grade this year, it is not yet clear how the DfE will keep track of the success of support provided by RDPs.

School improvement matchmakers:

Flying High Trust – East Midlands

Great Heights Academy Trust – North West, South Yorkshire and Humber

Aspire Academy Trust – South West

St John Vianney Catholic Primary School (part of Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust) – The North

Meridian Trust – East of England

Thornden School (part of HISP MAT) – South East, London

John Taylor MAT – West Midlands

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