Two Yorkshire school chains in pioneering link-up to raise standards

TWO of Yorkshire's biggest academy chains have agreed to work together to raise standards in the North of England.

Picture: PA
Picture: PA

The collaboration between Outwood Grange Academies Trust (OGAT) and the School Partnership Trust Academies (SPTA) is said to be the first of its kind in the country.

Between them they run around 60 state schools, mainly in Yorkshire.

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The agreement comes as the former deputy chief executive of OGAT Paul Tarn has been appointed as the chief executive of the SPTA following the departure at the end of last year of its former boss Sir Paul Edwards.

OGAT and SPTA have both grown from successful secondary schools - Outwood Grange in Wakefield and Garforth Community College.

The two schools converted to academies under Labour and have grown under the coalition and Conservative Governments. Both original head teachers Sir Michael Wikins and Sir Paul Edwards have been knighted for services to education.

However in recent years OGAT, which has grown more slowly, has been more successful.

It has been chosen by the Government as one of five strong performing academy sponsors in the North of England to receive extra funding to convert more schools in struggling areas.

Of its 17 academies five are rated as outstanding another four are good with outstanding leadership. Two more are rated as good and the others have not been inspected by Ofsted since converting to OGAT academies.

The SPTA was one of the fastest growing academy chains under the coalition and now runs more than 40 schools.

However, as The Yorkshire Post exclusively revealed last year, it was warned about the exam performance of 13 of its academies in a letter from one of the Government’s regional commissioner.

A letter, seen by The Yorkshire Post, from the regional schools commissioner for East Midlands and the Humber, Jennifer Bexon-Smith, told the SPTA that the academy chain had “grown relatively quickly” and had capacity issues “preventing the trust from effectively supporting and challenging all of its academies”.

Ofsted has recently carried out a focused inspection of SPTA schools and its findings are expected soon.

Now SPTA’s board of directors has announced that Mr Tarn has taken over as chief executive.

The chairman of SPTA’s board Steve Hodsman said was ‘delighted’ to have appointed Mr Tarn.

“Paul is a National Leader of Education with an outstanding record of rapid school

improvement and has many years of experience working alongside Sir Michael Wilkins and the OGAT board of directors,” he said.

Mr Tarn said: “I am looking forward to working with colleagues and the board at SPTA to make the trust an outstanding provider of education for young people in the north of England.”

The announcement said that SPTA and OGAT “have agreed to work collaboratively to respond to the Government’s challenge of transforming outcomes for children across the North of England.”

It added: “This is the first time two very large trusts have announced such a close collaboration and they plan to use their joint capacity to drive up standards in education and to deliver improved outcomes for children across the region.”