School accused of off-rolling by Ofsted could have funding axed

An academy that Ofsted identified as potentially off-rolling pupils could have its funding axed and be handed to a new trust unless improvements are made.

E-Act has insisted it is conducting a “thorough investigation” into the inspectorate’s findings that eight year 11 pupils were removed from Shenley Academy – a school it runs in Birmingham – on the same day shortly before the school census.

The school is one of two E-Act academies issued with a ‘minded to terminate’ notice, as well as a secondary school run by Oasis Community Learning and a primary school run by Abbey Multi Academy Trust. All four notices were published today, and follow ‘inadequate’ Ofsted reports at the schools.

The trusts will now have to provide the DfE with post-inspection plans to show how they plan to make rapid improvements, or face having the schools re-brokered elsewhere.

Inspectors rated Shenley Academy as ‘inadequate’ across the board after an inspection in October where they “found evidence to suggest that leaders had ‘off-rolled’ some pupils in Year 11.”

The report said leaders “could not give any valid explanation as to why eight pupils, all of whom were disadvantaged and half had SEND, were removed from the school’s roll on the same day in the autumn term 2017”.

Shenley Academy is the second identified as potentially off-rolling by Ofsted. It was revealed in November that Harrop Fold, the Salford secondary school that featured in the Channel 4 documentary Educating Greater Manchester, had been placed in special measures. Inspectors found year 11 pupils were “deleted from the school roll” shortly before the census date.

Nechells Primary E-Act Academy, also in Birmingham, was criticised for its “inadequate” provision for SEND pupils, who were said to “make little or no progress”, as well as “ineffective” teaching and “low expectations” of pupils at an inspection in October.

A spokesperson for the trust said it had “taken swift and decisive action” to address Ofsted’s concerns at both schools, including bringing in “extremely experienced leaders”, and said E-Act remains “absolutely committed to turning both academies around”.

He added that off-rolling is “completely unacceptable” and said the trust was conducting a “thorough investigation” into the incident that occurred in September 2017.

Oasis Academy Oldham has also received a minded to terminate notice. It was rated ‘inadequate’ after an inspection in November after inspectors warned that key stage 4 pupils had “underachieved significantly across many subjects”, particularly the most able pupils.

The report criticised “a legacy of weak teaching” at the school, and said that although the trust has recently acted to strengthen leadership at the school “for many pupils, especially in key stage 4, this is too little, too late.”

A spokesperson for Oasis said it “fully accepts and acknowledges the areas for improvement outlined in the report” and was “proactively addressing these”.

“The newly appointed principal, trust and other senior leaders have a precise understanding of the school’s areas of development, and they have begun to take effective action to bring about necessary change.” 

Lightcliffe Academy received the fourth minded to terminate notice published today. The primary school, which is run by the Abbey Multi Academy Trust, was rated ‘inadequate’ across the board after an inspection in November which warned that pupil progress is “weak” and criticised the school’s “poorly designed curriculum”.

Inspectors said attendance rates “remain stubbornly below average”, and warned that a “high” proportion of disadvantaged pupils are persistent absentees.

Abbey was contacted for comment.