Exclusive: Academies chain warned about schools’ poor performance

Jennifer Bexon-Smith:  Warning over third of schools at Yorkshire's biggest academy chain.
Jennifer Bexon-Smith: Warning over third of schools at Yorkshire's biggest academy chain.
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YORKSHIRE’S biggest academy chain has been warned about poor performance in almost a third of its schools.

The Government’s regional schools commissioner has suggested that some schools will need to be taken away from the School Partnership Trust Academies (SPTA). The warning comes in a leaked letter to bosses at the chain which has been seen by The Yorkshire Post.

However SPTA has said that it is providing tailored assistance to the academies causing concern.

The letter, written by regional schools commissioner for East Midlands and the Humber, Jennifer Bexon-Smith, tells 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.”

As well as raising concern about 13 schools it says that the Department for Education (DfE) and the SPTA themselves had concerns about a cluster of its schools in Nottinghamshire.

SPTA runs more than 40 schools, mostly in Yorkshire, and expanded massively during the roll-out of the academies programme during the coalition Government’s term in office.

The SPTA was said to be concerned about the isolation of three schools: Queen Elizabeth and Wainwright Primary in Mansfield and Leamington Primary and Nursery in Sutton-in-Ashfield.

Ms Bexon-Smith said the DfE was planning a more radical approach for Doncaster and had identified strong sponsors to take on under-performing academies and local authority maintained schools.

She asks for the SPTA board to give its view on the three Doncaster schools being moved to a different sponsor.

Paul West, the SPTA’s director of education said: “We are in ongoing discussions with the DfE to ensure the continued stability of SPTA Academies and the progress and attainment for our students remains our shared highest priority.”

Read more: Academy chain could lose schools