England's largest primary-only academy trust Reach2 gives up two of its schools

South London academies move from national organisation to local sponsors

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One of England’s leading academy chains has given up two of its primary schools amid concerns about their performance.

Reach2, the largest primary-only academy trust in England, asked for the two south London schools to be transferred to new sponsors.

Castle Hill Academy in Croydon, which joined Reach2 in November 2013, was put into special measures following an Ofsted inspection last September.

The report said that, until the appointment of the current head that month, “the trust was ineffective in appointing and retaining strong leadership for the school”.

Now it has emerged that the school will be re-brokered and join the Platanos Trust, a local sponsor.

In January, it emerged that another Reach2 school in Croydon, Broadmead Primary Academy, was being transferred to the Pioneer Academy, a different local sponsor.

At the time, a Reach2 spokesman told the Croydon Advertiser that “we feel that the rate of improvement would accelerate under another trust”.

'Swift interventions'

Reach2 has been viewed as a highly successful trust, and last September, the Department for Education approved its bids to create 22 new free schools, and the following month Ofsted’s then chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw named it as one of seven “high-performing multi-academy trusts”.

Tes understands that Reach2 believes the problems of the two re-brokered south London schools did not indicate any flaws in its own model, and were specific to those two schools.

A Reach2 spokesperson said: "Our approach continues to transform schools – over the last month alone, five of our academies received good judgements from Ofsted, having previously been in special measures or requires improvement.

“What's more, two new schools will be joining us in September and we have a pipeline of 22 new free schools that will open in the coming years."

A Department for Education spokesperson said there were no official warning notices about Reach2, and the planned free schools were unaffected.

She added: “We are working closely with Reach2 to ensure all pupils in the trust are supported to achieve their potential. One of the strengths of the academy programme is that a strict system of oversight and accountability allows for swift interventions.

“The regional schools commissioner and the trust have agreed that Castle Hill Academy and Broadmead Primary Academy should move to different sponsors. We continue to work with all parties to ensure a smooth transition.”

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