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Academy chain criticised for providing poor education

An “overwhelming proportion” of pupils attending schools under the control of the Kemnal Academies Trust are not receiving a good enough education, according to Ofsted.

The schools’ watchdog published a letter today addressed to the chair of the academy chain, John Atkins, spelling out its concerns over the standard of education being provided by its schools.

According to the inspectorate, less than half of the 39 schools within the Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT) are judged to be “good”, while none are deemed to be “outstanding”.

Inspectors visited six primary academies over a two-week period, and found one had to be placed into special measures, while three were judged to “require improvement”. Just two were judged to be good.

"This means that an overwhelming proportion of pupils attending one of the academies inspected are not receiving a good education. I am sure this will be disappointing to you and you will be anxious to support these schools in providing a good education for all children," Ofsted regional director Sir Robin Bosher wrote in his letter.

The watchdog conducted telephone interviews with heads at a further 12 academies, which revealed that the quality of governance of academies within the chain was “too variable”.

It added that while there had been recent improvements due to a restructuring within the trust, it had come “too late” for some academies, and "urged caution" over plans to expand the chain further.

“The outcomes of the inspections and discussions with headteachers indicate that you have not been wholly successful in substantially improving the effectiveness of your academies,” Sir Robin said.

“I am pleased to report that you appear to be in a stronger position to support academies now than in the past. This view of improved capacity is supported by the progress inadequate academies are making. I would urge caution as you expand further, making sure that sufficient capacity exists to support and nurture vulnerable schools as soon as they join you.”

The findings come just months after Ofsted sent a similar letter to the E-ACT Trust - one of England's biggest academy chains, warning that it had failed to take effective action to improve standards in many of its schools. E-ACT said it has been making changes for over a year and introducing reforms under new leadership.

In a statement, TKAT said it acknowledged its organisational restructure during early 2013 disrupted the consistent support it offered schools.

"But we are pleased Ofsted has recognised that this change has improved our capacity to support our schools. The report goes on to commend the quality and range of support we have implemented in our schools over the last year," the Trust said. 

"We are committed to educational excellence and we will continue to work with our schools to implement changes. We believe that our new structure will allow for sustainable improvements to deliver exceptional educational standards for all our pupils."

 
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