Major primary MAT could be stripped of school

Elliot Foundation receives DfE 'minded to terminate' letter for Ramnoth Junior after it went into special measures

Martin George

The DfE said it could terminate the funding agreement for Ramnoth Junior School.

One of England’s biggest primary-only academy trusts could be stripped of one of its schools after it went into special measures.

The Department for Education has warned the Elliot Foundation, which runs 28 schools, that it could terminate the funding agreement of Ramnoth Junior School in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

It warning came after Ofsted judged the school, which had 249 pupils on its roll at the time of the inspection, "inadequate" in an inspection report published in May.

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The Elliot Foundation becomes the latest prominent academy trust to be warned that it could lose an academy following a poor Ofsted report, following similar letters to the Inspiration Trust, Star Academies, AET, Reach2 and E-Act.

The trust's chief executive Hugh Greenway told Tes it has turned the school around before, and "will do it again".

In a letter to the Elliot Foundation’s chair Caroline Whalley, regional schools commissioner Sue Baldwin said she could terminate the academy’s funding agreement if she was not satisfied that it could “achieve rapid and sustained improvement”.

The letter, dated 21 May but not publicised by the DfE until this month, asks for evidence about the progress of pupils and action taken to support education improvements, an update on governance following the disbanding of the local governing body in February 2019, and news of any external review of how pupil premium funding is used.

The Ofsted report rated the school "inadequate" in all areas except personal development, behaviour and welfare, which was judged to require improvement.

It says: “Leaders and the trust have been too slow, for too long, to take action to halt the decline in standards.

“Although this has been compounded by the school’s growth, including a new build, changes of staff, difficulties in recruitment and a reliance on temporary staff arrangements, the current quality of leadership and management is fragile and somewhat fragmented.

“Consequently, leaders lack the capacity to be able to make necessary and sustainable improvements.”

The report says the Elliot Foundation had “recently taken decisive action”, citing its decision to disband the school’s governing body and appoint a federation improvement executive principal.

However, it adds: “New arrangements have increased the rigour and challenge of leadership, but these improvements are too little and too late.”

Mr Greenway noted that Ramnoth was in special measures when it joined the Elliot Foundation in 2013, and Ofsted rated it "good" two years later.

He said the trust oversaw a complete rebuild of the school over the same period, and added: "While I deeply regret that standards have slipped unacceptably, we will be held to account by the regional schools commissioner for the rapid improvement of our overall provision to Ramnoth children and their families or face the termination of our involvement with the school.

"We have turned this school around once before, we will do it again. This time it will be sustainable.”

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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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