Wakefield academy trust praised in Ofsted’s third focused inspection report

An academy trust has been praised by Ofsted for “making a positive difference” for pupils.

Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) received a focused inspection in May and five schools within the trust were inspected.

It is the third publication of a focused inspection in as many weeks. Yesterday the inspectorate told Collaborative Academies Trust its impact on pupils’ achievement is “inconsistent and limited”.

Four of WCAT’s schools, which were judged to be inadequate previously, improved their ratings. Three were found to require improvement, and a primary academy was told it was now good.

A monitoring visit to a fifth school said it was making “reasonable progress” towards the removal of special measures.

WCAT became a multi-academy trust (MAT) in 2013 and Ofsted said it has “grown significantly” since then, with academies in four local authorities – Wakefield, Doncaster, Sheffield and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

In a letter to WCAT’s chief executive Alan Yellup, HMI Margaret Farrow said: “WCAT has articulated its vision across its family of academies very successfully. Trust and academy leaders speak enthusiastically about a shared sense of purpose and culture of improvement… Two years into its development, WCAT is making a positive difference to the quality of provision and outcomes for pupils within its academies.”

She said leaders were “tenacious” in gathering data on pupils’ performance, progress and attendance and said this is “strengthened” by six-weekly reports to the trust’s board.

The letter added: “Current assessment information indicates that academies, including those with the lowest baseline of achievement, are improving on previous years’ achievements. In the majority of academies, there is a reduction in the gap between disadvantaged pupils and non-disadvantaged pupils.”

Ms Farrow praised the trust’s attitude towards continued professional development, saying: “Such work is a strength of the trust and a major factor in the improvements in pupils’ achievements and the quality of teaching and leadership and management across the trust.”

However, Ofsted said the WCAT’s strategic plan does not “accurately reflect” the “emerging key school improvement priorities” nor the changes needed as the trust expands.

The inspectorate recommended WCAT work further to reduce high absence figures and revisit its “scheme of delegation” to account of changes in the trust’s size.

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