Ofsted demands urgent improvements to E-ACT secondary academies

9 Feb 16

Education watchdog Ofsted has called for urgent improvements to secondary schools run by the E-ACT chain of academy after a review concluded standards at the trust were not good enough.

The review of the chain, which runs 23 academies found that more than half are not providing a good standard of education.

Five of the academies are currently inadequate and only 10 are good or better, according to the review, which is intended to establish the effectiveness of a multi-academy trust in supporting and challenging schools.

The inspectorate had previously raised concerns about the quality of provision, and today’s review found E-ACT did now took a more robust and direct approach to school improvement.

However, previous interventions to raise attainment did not have enough impact, according to the report.

In particular, the review highlighted that pupils achieve better at the 11 E-ACT primary academies than they do in the 11 secondary academies, which was a disparity that “needs urgent attention”.

“Standards in the secondary academies are too low. Previous interventions by the trust to raise attainment and accelerate progress have not had enough impact and any improvements have been slow,” Ofsted concluded.

Responding to the report, E-ACT said the watchdog recognised the “substantial progress” that has been made within the group, particularly in relation to primaries.

“Over the past year, we have overhauled the way that E-ACT is run, and the way that our academies operate, so that children and young people genuinely have an excellent education during their time with us. This is now beginning to bear fruit, but there is more work to be done,” its statement added.

“Ofsted recognises that the focus on improved teaching is a constant feature of each academy, and we are confident that the changes we have made – both structurally and educationally – will result in a similar step-change in our secondary academies, and further improvements across our primaries.”

The National Union of Teachers said Ofsted’s review was the latest report to show that academy status had no direct link with good outcomes for young people.

General secretary Christine Blower said academy conversion, which is being prioritised by the government, was “not a school improvement strategy”.

She added: “The obsession with academies and free schools, as championed by the Conservatives, is not driven be a desire to improve schools. If it were, ministers would be open to the evidence about the wide range of factors which determine school effectiveness.

“Ministers are ignoring professional concerns about teacher vacancy rates, rushed curriculum changes and incessant policy change, all of which undermine school leaders’ efforts to stay on track and deliver excellent education for their students.”

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