Ofsted Annual Report: 65 inadequate schools STILL not converted after 17 months

Over 60 schools branded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted 17 months ago have still not been taken over by an academy trust, despite new laws requiring the government to make it happen.

Ofsted’s annual report reveals that of 170 local authority-maintained schools that were languishing at the lowest rating in April last year, when new rules around academy conversion came into force, 65 of which have still not converted to academy status.

The new laws, introduced last year, compel the government to forcibly convert LA-maintained schools placed in special measures by Ofsted or found to be “coasting“.

It followed a campaign by education secretary Nicky Morgan, who said during an interview in 2015 that one day spent in a failing school by a pupil was “a day too long“. She subsequently introduced the new laws compelling ‘inadequate’ schools to become academies which she said would change the length of time it took to turn around a school’s fortunes.

According to Ofsted’s report, in the last nine months, 113 maintained schools also became eligible for an academy order due to their low performance but are still open in their original guise. Twenty-two do not have any date slated for conversion.

Over the past year, 1,120 schools converted to academy status and the number of multi-academy trusts registered to take over schools increased from 800 to around 1,000.

However, the inability to find sponsors for some persistently failing schools is becoming a source of contention for the government.

Dubbed “schools no one wants” by a parliamentary education committee earlier this year, trusts are now receiving around £7 million in additional funds as an incentive to take over such challenging schools.

In some cases, issues such as repayments to councils for school buildings created under private financial incentives (PFI) are holding up the changes. In Newham, several schools have been campaigning to become academies, but are unable to agree on a settlement for the repayments.

Ofsted says it is now working with regional schools commissioners to “understand when” the schools are likely to become academies and consider whether its inspectors ought to “carry out monitoring visits in the meantime”.


More on Ofsted’s annual report…

More challenging KS2 SATs are leaving poorer pupils behind

RI schools fail to improve at record levels

Religious schools increasingly ‘flouting’ British values

130 schools not rated ‘good’ for over a decade

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    • Mark Watson

      I’d love you to answer the question I’ve asked on various threads but which you’ve always avoided answering.
      How long would you give an LA to turn around an Inadequate school?
      If the school was still Inadequate after five years, should they be given longer?
      After ten years, should we still be saying it’s better to leave the school with the LA?
      How about ten years, fifteen, twenty?
      Is there any length of time which a school should be allowed to be below Good before you’d accept that the organisation responsible for that school might not be the right organisation to improve it?

  1. The root of the problem is the almost universal misunderstanding that the quality of a school can be judged from its aggregated exam results. Yes, this error is a logical and statistical fact, yet for decades now that is what happens, with small inspection teams going into schools pre-armed armed with data showing that floor targets have not been met.

    It matters not a jot how much high quality teaching and learning can be observed in the tiny sample of lessons inspected, because having been forced to make the judgement on the hopelessly invalid school performance data, all the inspectors do in the lessons they look at is to think up comments to make to justify the inadequate/requires improvement judgement already made before they set foot in the building.

    It is a myth that aggregated KS2 SATs result are a reliable measure of prior attainment. No such excessively threatening high stakes tests could be. All they achieve is to guarantee that the feeder primary schools in the same poor, low mean cognitive ability catchment areas, are forced to abandon sound, developmental teaching methods in favour of the quick fix, cramming, behaviourism, gaming and yes, cheating, that the Chief Inspector has rightly recently condemned.

    It is cognitive ability, not ‘prior attainment’ based on cramming, that is needed for base line evaluations of student progress and these cannot be validly aggregated to judge a school without aggregated Y6/Y7 CATs test data.

    The reason why Academy MATs do not want to take on these schools, that compete with other schools serving more affluent postcodes that produce higher mean CATs score intakes, is because in most cases they know they can do no better than the existing heads and teachers. To solve this problem needs an LA wide approach such as that which has been so successful in the London Borough of Hackney, where all pupils take CATs in Y6 and (nearly) all the secondary schools, Academies and otherwise, operate common, fair banding based admission policies administered by the LA.

    You can read in detail, with real data, how this works in Part 4 of my book, ‘Learning Matters’, together with the reason for the factual link between postcode affluence and mean cognitive abiliy (that heads have always understood).

    For a case history of how floor targets and mindless Academisation can wreck local education systems and blight young lives see this article.

  2. See this important article by Janet Downs.

    from which I quote as follows.

    “52 secondary schools inspected in 2016/17 have not improved from requires improvement or worse since 2005, Ofsted’s Annual Report for 2016/17 reveals. The majority (37) had become academies but their Ofsted rating was not upgraded when they were inspected as academies.

    Academy conversion, particularly with a sponsor, was supposed to be the best route for improvement. This was the spiel promoted by successive governments.

    But as David Laws’ Coalition Diaries 2012-15 reveals, Department for Education (DfE) figures in the Coalition years were manipulated to show academies and free schools were doing better as a group than local authority (LA) maintained schools, when they were not.

    Deception about academies has been going on since academies were first established under Labour. Billions of pounds and much upheaval later and it’s clear that academization isn’t the promised magic bullet.”