A pre-warning notice letter has been issued to the Northern Education Trust, due to “unacceptably low” standards of performance at North Shore, The Blyth and Thomas Hepburn Academies.
The Trust was sent the letter on March 11, 2016 by Vicky Beer (pictured left), regional schools commissioner for Lancashire and West Yorkshire, and details of the notice were published on the gov.uk website on August 26.
The North Shore Academy, which has been run by the Northern Education Trust since 2012, will see Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening appoint additional governors if changes are not made within a “reasonable period of time”.
The academy has come under criticism because attainment for pupils achieving 5 or more A*-C GCSEs (including English and maths) has declined over a three year period.
In 2013, the proportion of students achieving this result was 53 per cent, but this has subsequently dropped to 40 per cent in 2014, and 34 per cent in 2015.
While progress in English has improved over the same period, maths results have fluctuated and Beer concluded that “too few pupils are making the expected progress”.
North Shore came under fire last year, when then principal Andy Rodgers was suspended due to investigation by Pearson, the company which owns exam board Edexcel, into concerns about the way a GCSE maths exam had been conducted and overseen. Rodgers subsequently resigned from his post.
The Northern Education Trust has also been issued with a termination warning notice for The Blyth Academy, which is has run since 2013, due to more poor performance.
If this notice is not complied with in “a reasonable period of time”, then a written notice of intention to terminate the academy’s funding agreement will be issued.
This is due to attainment for pupils achieving 5 or more A*-C GCSEs (including English and maths) remaining significantly below the minimum standard of 40 per cent – the proportion of students gaining these grades has sat at only 29 per cent for 2014 and 2015.
While English progress at this academy has also shown some improvement over the same period, maths has declined and not enough pupils are making the expected progress.
Finally, the Thomas Hepburn Academy has also been issued with a termination warning notice, which again may result in a termination of its funding agreement if the appropriate changes are not made.
The number of pupils achieving 5 or more A*-C GCSEs (including English and maths) at Thomas Hepburn was 37 per cent in 2014, but declined to 33 per cent in 2015.
Both English and maths showed some improvement in 2014, but declined in 2015 to 34 per cent and 43 per cent respectively.
The Trust has fifteen working days from the date the letter was sent to outline the actions it will take to improve performance, and to explain how these actions will be implemented, how their effectiveness will be measured and under what timescales.
The Northern Education Trust was unable to provide a comment by the time of publication.