Ofsted will increase the number of academy trust evaluations next year, with smaller and specialist chains now eligible for visits.
New guidance on trust summary evaluations, published today, shows the trust summary evaluations will now mirror the new education framework. They will focus on “the quality of education as seen through the curriculum”.
Ofsted said this will “allow us to increase the volume of summary evaluations, and the breadth of MATs inspected, so that we gain better insight into the role of multi-academy trusts”.
The guidance says a “broad range” of MATs will be chosen for evaluation, including “smaller and specialist MATs, not just those that may be a cause for concern”.
The guidance adds: “This is to ensure that we can gain an accurate and balanced understanding of the contribution that MATs make to the school system, highlighting areas of strength that can be shared more widely and providing insight into any weaknesses.”
Ofsted told Schools Week it plans 12 MAT summary evaluations in the spring term, and will confirm future evaluations in due course.
The evaluations have been on hold since the pandemic.
Introduced in 2019, the evaluations look at whether trusts are delivering a high-quality education and improving pupil outcomes.
Ofsted visit a number of schools within a trust before discussing its findings with leaders and publishing a letter.
‘Visiting more MATs will help sector improve’
Chief inspector Amanda Spielman said trusts “form a large part of our educational landscape and many decisions about the day-to-day running of an academy take place at trust level.
“It’s important, therefore, that we have conversations with the trust about the quality of education provided across their academies.
“By visiting more MATs, we will be able to gain a better understanding of their contribution to the school system.
“And we will be able to share valuable insights and information that can help the sector improve.”
A draft law to allow Ofsted to inspect the governing bodies of multi-academy trusts was introduced in Parliament last week.
The 10-minute rule motion, introduced by Conservative MP and former teacher Jonathan Gullis, was backed by MPs from across the political divide.
Those in favour included education committee chair Robert Halfon, former Labour shadow minister Emma Hardy and public accounts committee chair Dame Meg Hillier.
The bill seeks to amend section 5 of the 2005 education act to give Ofsted increased powers to inspect MATs. But it is unlikely to succeed as backbench bills rarely progress fast enough to become law.
Spielman has long called for the power to inspect MATs.
The new guidance includes ‘clarifications’ for MATs. Only academies due an inspection will be visited. Ofsted said it will not inspect schools solely because they are running an evaluation.
During the second stage of evaluations, Ofsted will not visit academies in a category of concern unless it is agreed by the trust and inspectors.
Ofsted aims to visit a “broadly representative” range of MATs each year. The current programme will not see every trust evaluated within a certain window.