Call for Ofsted to be allowed into academy chains after critical new report

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CAMPAIGNERS have called for Ofsted to be able to inspect academy chains after the watchdog produced a critical report about the way in which one of the country’s biggest sponsors supports its struggling schools.

Ofsted does not have the power to inspect chain’s head offices and school improvement services in the same way it does with local councils.

However it has just carried out its first targeted inspection of a group of E-ACT academies amid concern about the chain’s ability to support some of its schools. The national chain has handed back control of ten schools, including three in Yorkshire. Last week Ofsted said it was failing to take effective action support schools which had fallen into special measures. E-ACT’s management has promised to deliver improvements.

Henry Stewart, of the Local Schools Network said: “What Ofsted has done is focus on E-ACT by looking at its schools but it highlights the need for inspectors to be able to look at the chains themselves. When they do targeted inspections of local councils causing concern Ofsted inspect the councils themselves. Why can’t they do this with academy chains? Why the double standard? It is an outrage.”

However a Department for Education spokesman said: “Ofsted already inspect all schools, including academies, and can also inspect a number of academies from the same chain in one batch if they wish.

“As we have seen with E-ACT, these arrangements already allow underperformance in academy chains to be swiftly identified and addressed.

“This shows the present system is working, allowing both individual schools and academy chains to be held effectively to account.”