MAT criticised over failing schools in new Ofsted check

Ofsted issues damning report on Bishop Anthony Educational Trust in first wave of MAT summary evaluations

John Roberts

Ofsted has issued a critical report as part of its new system of checking on multi-academy trusts

A multi-academy trust has been criticised for not improving schools with significant weaknesses, in one of the first of Ofsted’s summary MAT evaluations.

Ofsted said it was unacceptable that Bishop Anthony Educational Trust (BAET) had not been successful enough with such schools.

The multi-academy trust, run by the Church of England's Diocese of Hereford, saw half of its schools most recently inspected judged less than "good". 

Quick read: Hinds sets limit on MAT evaluations

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Ofsted has launched the new way of holding MATs to account by inspecting groups of its schools and then meeting with trust leaders after individual inspection reports have been published.

The evaluation of the BAET, published today, is the fifth that Ofsted has carried out this year.

Academy trusts face Ofsted checks

It says: “Trust senior leaders and directors have not had a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the trust. 

“Systems to evaluate the effectiveness of the trust’s work and the implementation of their strategic plans for improvement have lacked rigour”

However, Ofsted also notes that the newly appointed interim chief executive “has an accurate view of the extensive improvements required and has begun to improve communication between the trust and school leaders”.

The summary evaluation adds that headteachers are pleased with the changes instigated by the interim CEO. 

Ofsted found that the trust’s vision and values have generally been communicated well when schools have first joined the trust. However, it adds the trust’s ethos has not then been embedded. 

The report says: “BAET has not ensured a trust-wide focus on improving outcomes for pupils, with leaders having an insufficient understanding of how well pupils are achieving. No effective action has been taken to understand or address the performance of disadvantaged pupils. 

“Trust senior leaders are not sufficiently held to account.”

However, it said that governance has improved since the inspections of schools earlier this year.

BAET runs schools across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire. It consists of 12 primary schools, an infant school, a junior school, and two secondaries. 

Earlier this year, Ofsted inspected eight BAET schools for its evaluation of the MAT. Three were placed in special measures and another was moved from "outstanding" to "requires improvement".

Another school improved from "requires improvement" to "good" and three more retained their "good" rating after short Section 8 inspections.

BAET said new heads had been appointed at two of the three schools rated "inadequate".

Andrew Teale, BAET’s chief executive said: “The results of the summary evaluation are very disappointing and we know we have a lot of work to do to ensure that all our schools offer the fantastic educational opportunities our children deserve.

"However, I can confidently say that many of the points raised by Ofsted had been identified prior to their visit in March and it is pleasing that the evaluation acknowledges that progress is already being made.

“In the latter part of 2018, the Diocese of Hereford stepped up their involvement with the work of the trust when it became clear there were issues that needed addressing."

He said since taking direct control as CEO "we have started a process to transform this multi-academy trust and provide better support for our academies."

He added: “I have absolutely no doubt that the BAET has been moving in the right direction for the past few months and that the changes we have implemented are already beginning to bear fruit."

There has been some controversy surrounding Ofsted’s MAT summary evaluations.  

Education secretary Damian Hinds wrote to Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, last year to set out limits of what the inspectorate should do.

As part of the evaluation, Ofsted will visit schools not being inspected.

Mr Hinds has urged the inspectorate not to place “undue burden” on MATs when visiting these schools, and also not to refer to its findings as MAT inspections.

The other four trusts to receive an evaluation so far this year are Fylde Coast Academy Trust, Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust, the Active Learning Trust and Truro and Penwith Academy Trust. 



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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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