Education trust running inadequate Calderdale school handed government warning

Lightcliffe Academy
Lightcliffe Academy

An inadequate Calderdale school being run by an academy trust has been warned it will lose its control if things do not approve.

Abbey Multi Academy Trust which runs Lightcliffe Academy. which runs Lightcliffe Academy, has been handed a minded to terminate letter by the Department for Education (DfE) – meaning it could be forced to cut ties with the school unless improvements are made in a number of key areas.

The Stoney Lane school was judged inadequate and requires special measure following an Ofsted inspection in January.

READ MORE: Lightcliffe Academy rated inadequate by government inspectors

Following the Ofsted judgement, Kate Baddeley, Deputy Director for the Regional Schools Commissioner for Lancashire and West Yorkshire met with the joint CEOs, Catherine Garrett and Helen Pratten, last month

In the meeting steps were discussed about the trust had done so far to address the issues at Lightcliffe Academy, and the trust’s capacity to make the improvements required at pace to bring the school out of special measures.

From this meeting the regional schools commissioner for Lancashire and West Yorkshire Vicky Beer issued a minded to terminate letter.

"Although you provided assurance at the meeting that plans are in place to address the issues at Lightcliffe, I remain concerned about the trust’s ability to delivery those plans," said the commissioner.

"You have two inadequate academies to support and drive rapid improvement and will need support from the DfE and Diocese as well as external school improvement support to sustain the progress required.

"As the Regional Schools Commissioner acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, I need to be satisfied that this academy can achieve rapid and sustained improvement, if I am not satisfied this can be achieved I will consider issuing a Termination Warning Notice."

In accordance with the Academies Act 2010 any funding agreement of an academy may be terminated by the Secretary of State where special measures are required to be taken by the academy or the academy requires significant improvement and the Chief Inspector of Ofsted has given notice of that under the Education Act 2005.

In a statement Mr Jon Norden, Acting Principal Lightcliffe Academy, Executive Principal (Secondary) Abbey Multi Academy Trusts said: "As soon as the outcome of the Ofsted inspection was confirmed, the Trust was aware that the Department for Education would consider the future of Lightcliffe Academy within Abbey MAT. Meetings with the DFE have taken place in which the Trust’s plans to secure rapid improvement have been shared and approved.

"Our post Ofsted action plan addresses 6 key areas, which include: leadership and management; attendance; behaviour; teaching, learning and assessment; sixth form provision; and student aspiration.

"Behaviour systems have been revised in order to minimise disruptive behaviour and we are working closely with parents and carers to raise levels of attendance.

"Teachers are being supported to ensure that all lessons provide the necessary challenge to stretch our students and prepare them well for both GCSE and A-level exams.

"The recently published letter from the Department for Education is a reminder that we are expected to make quick progress in all identified areas.

"We are confident that Abbey MAT will provide the academy with the support it needs to make rapid progress.

"The Trust is providing support through a dedicated team who are adding additional capacity to ensure that the best practice within the Trust is implemented at Lightcliffe.

"In addition, we have already arranged external reviews of both governance and pupil premium provision."