A new inspection regime for multi-academy trusts will be introduced this month, Ofsted has revealed.
In its annual report, the watchdog said it will introduce new summary evaluations, which will see groups of schools in the same trust inspected across one or two terms and feedback sessions with leaders once reports are published.
At the moment, Ofsted carries out focused inspections of groups of schools over a single week to assess how well their sponsors are doing.
Following some targeted piloting and inspector training, we will be changing the process for reviewing MATs by introducing MAT summary evaluations
The new system is a compromise announced by the watchdog as it continues to press for powers to directly inspect academy trust headquarters and back office functions.
Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, has called publicly for such powers on a number of occasions, echoing the views of her predecessor, Sir Michael Wilshaw.
In the meantime, Ofsted has made changes “within the limitations of our existing powers” that will “allow us to get a better handle on quality across a MAT”.
“In December, following some targeted piloting and inspector training, we will be changing the process for reviewing MATs by introducing MAT summary evaluations.
“Building on our practice over the past four years, we will continue to inspect groups of schools in a MAT that are due to be inspected, but rather than doing so in a single week, these will be carried out across one or two terms.”
The new regime will also allow inspectors to evaluate trusts with leaders once their reports are published, a set-up first revealed by Schools Week in September. At present, these meetings take place the week after the inspections, when the reports are not yet completed.
“This offers more time to draw out common themes and gives MAT leaders opportunity for reflection,” Ofsted said in its report.
“In order to provide a balanced picture of quality in the sector, these evaluations will look at high-performing MATs as well as those where we might have concerns.”