Ofsted extremism review finds funding breaches

9 Jun 14

Ofsted’s review of 21 schools and academies in Birmingham has revealed that some academies breached their funding agreements by failing to provide a ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum.

Inspectors visited the schools in March and April this year following concerns about the effectiveness of safeguarding and leadership and management.

Following this exercise, Ofsted today announced that five of the schools were being placed in special measures, with all falling down on both safeguarding and leadership and management measures.

In his advice note to Education Secretary Michael Gove, chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw also highlighted that some of the academies inspected were in breach of their funding agreements with the Education Funding Agency.

‘Some of the academies inspected, for example, did not meet the requirement to provide a broad and balanced curriculum or to provide the appropriate balance in religious education,’ Wilshaw said.

‘In several of these academies, the general requirement to promote community cohesion was not being met.’

He went on to note that arrangements for appointing governor to these academies had not been sufficiently robust.

‘Governors in these academies have been able to adopt policies and introduce practices that run contrary to the spirit, and the letter, of their funding agreements.’

Ofsted was also critical of Birmingham City Council, which is said had failed to support a number of schools in their efforts to protect children from potential radicalisation and extremism.

‘Although the local authority has received public funding to promote the Home Office’s [anti-terrorism] “Prevent” strategy, inspectors found that support for some schools in their effort to raise awareness of the dangers of extremism has been very limited,’ Wilshaw said.

The local authority was also criticised for failing to keep an adequate record of head teacher complaints about governors and for failing to properly assess the suitability of prospective governors.

In a statement, Birmingham City Council said it took Ofsted’s findings seriously and accepted that there were some areas where the council’s support needed to be reviewed and strengthened.

‘In respect of school governance, it does appear from Ofsted’s reports that a number of schools have fallen well below acceptable standards. We unequivocally condemn that,’ the council said.

The council said it would draw up individual action plans with each of the schools inspected and revising the process for the recruitment, appointment and training of governors.

The five schools and academies placed in special measures are: Golden Hillock School (a Park View Academy); Nansen Primary School (a Park View Academy); Park View Academy of Mathematics and Science; Oldknow Academy; and Saltley School and Specialist Science College.

Gove has asked Wilshaw to consider the practicalities of conducting no-notice inspections for all schools, while Prime Minister David Cameron has called a meeting of the government’s extremism taskforce to discuss the findings.

 

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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