Morgan’s new rules for academy trust ‘inspections’

Education Secretary has written to Ofsted advising of a new process for ‘inspecting’ multi-academy trusts (MATs).

In a move which will be seen as simply a formalisation of the existing method used by Ofsted to inspect MATs, Ms Morgan wrote of her preference that Ofsted continue to batch-inspect multiple schools rather than the trust itself.

However, she added that a letter should be sent to all trusts after the batch inspections and published online. The letter, she said, should include “performance of the academies which have not been inspected, so that the wider position across the MAT can be understood”.

She said: “I recognise the importance of transparency and support Ofsted’s preference for publishing a letter to the MAT summarising the findings from the individual inspections of the academies which have been batched together, as well as additional information gained about the support provided by the MAT.

“Prior to publication, the MAT should be provided with the opportunity to comment on the conclusions ans1ng from the focused inspections and consider the evidence underpinning them. Their response should be reviewed before publication and reflected appropriately in the final published letter.

“The published findings should make clear the sample of academies that have been included in the focused inspection and those which have not.

“lt should also reflect the policy and legal frameworks that govern the responsibilities of MATs. I am pleased that you agree that a binary judgement of the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the MAT is inappropriate and that comment on the MAT’s performance should be provided through narrative.

“The publication of a letter to the MAT summarising the findings from the focused inspections will of course be in addition to the publication of the individual inspection report for each inspected academy in question, which will be published in the normal fashion.”

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We welcome the Secretary of State’s letter clarifying the arrangements by which Ofsted will fully inspect Multi Academy Trusts (MATs). This will ensure Trusts are duly accountable.

“Ofsted will carry out inspections of MATs where there are concerns about academies’ performance within a Trust. They will also be conducted where there is evidence of strong performance within a Trust so that good practice can be shared.”

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  1. Business as usual then. LAs are subject to inspection for their school improvement services – so should MATs. Morgan says the EFA is responsible for investigation how academy trusts use public money but this relies on possible misuse being spotted.

    Ofsted investigation of MATs could reveal concerns how public money is spent. Could Morgan’s reluctance to allow inspection of MATs be anything to do with the £12.6 emergency hand-outs to 22 academies one of which was connected to schools minister Lord Nash?

  2. Tony Parkin

    What a gentle and neutral handling of a story that has led to considerable debate and opinion airing elsewhere? Especially when you make it your top story of the week. And, as Janet Downs points out above, especially when we see lack of transparency in cash handouts to academies in the same week. MAT inspection is clearly a controversial issue, and Morgan’s proposal a weak compromise that will satisfy no-one.
    I have come to expect some perceptive analysis illuminating factual stories in Schools Week, so hoping this was a last-minute story that will be expanded shortly?