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Boss of the country's biggest academy chain to step down

Ian Comfort will leave his position as chief executive at Academies Enterprise Trust in the spring

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Ian Comfort will leave his position as chief executive at Academies Enterprise Trust in the spring

Academies Enterprise Trust, the country’s biggest academy chain, is looking for a new chief executive after Ian Comfort announced that he is stepping down from the role.

The trust, which sponsors 67 schools across the country, made the announcement this morning on its website.

According to the statement, Mr Comfort told trustees that he had wanted to move on to “other challenges”, having led the organisation for three years.

"Over the past three years, despite extensive scrutiny and external challenge, Ian has focused on reforming the organisation and improving the outcomes for the 35,000 children in our schools," the trustees said.

"During his tenure as group chief executive, the percentage of good or outstanding academies in our trust has increased from less than 26 per cent to 68 per cent. In our primary schools, the number of good or outstanding academies has increased from 22 per cent to 84 per cent, with over 8,000 more children now receiving a good education."

AET under fire from Ofsted

The former maths teacher became chief executive at a pivotal time for the trust, after it came under significant criticism from Ofsted over the standard of education it was providing to its pupils. 

Back in 2014, the chain was prevented from sponsoring any further schools amid concerns about the quality of teaching and learning on offer.

The watchdog raised concerns again as recently as February this year, when it warned that the trust was "failing too many pupils"

AET chair Jack Boyer added: “The Trustees have put in place robust mechanisms to ensure a smooth transition, underpinned by a strengthened management team and board geared towards future growth.

“Together, this strong team is confident of appointing the right candidate to deliver our vision to ensure all our pupils receive an excellent education.”

Mr Comfort will step down in the spring term.

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