Ofsted boss praises strong leaders of top performing academy trusts

Ofsted chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw
Ofsted chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw
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STRONG PERFORMING academy chains are able to recruit powerful and authoritative headteachers and teach pupils in a “scholarly atmosphere”, according to the head of Ofsted.

Sir Michael Wilshaw has commissioned a report into what sets the best performing multi-academy trusts apart from others.

It follows his strong criticism of weaknesses Ofsted identified in seven academy trusts which were causing concern earlier this year.

Sir Michael highlighted his concerns about standards in academies seven trusts in a letter to the then Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. They included two Yorkshire-based chains School Partnership Trust Academies and Wakefield City Academies Trust.

Now Ofsted has produced an assessment of seven academy chains taken from a long list of which the Government’s National Schools Commissioner Sir David Carter considers to be high performing.

None of these were based in Yorkshire but the list includes Reach2, a national academy chain, which has set up a spin off chain called Reach4, which is sponsoring schools in South Yorkshire.

Ofsted said the strong performing chains all had powerful and authoritative executive leaders, with a clear vision for bringing about higher standards.

Inspectors found there was investment in professional development of teachers and the sharing of knowledge and expertise across a network of schools.

It also said there were clear frameworks of governance, accountability and delegation.

Sir Michael said: “In all but one of the seven trusts, the chief executive’s role is performed by a former head teacher, each of whom can demonstrate an impressive track record of turning around failing schools and of exercising system leadership. These leaders have succeeded in instilling a culture and ethos of high expectations among staff and pupils across their network of schools.”

“In particular, they are ambitious about transforming educational achievements for their poorest pupils, including the most able children.”

The seven academy chains in question which have been praised by Ofsted were Ark, Aspire, L.E.A.D, Leigh, Reach2 Academy Trust, The Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust and The First Federation Trust.