Ofsted inspections of multi-academy trusts would not be 'helpful', says Lord Agnew

Theodore Agnew made his first appearance at the education select committee

Eleanor Busby

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Changing the Ofsted inspection framework to allow the watchdog to inspect multi-academy trusts (MATs) would not be "helpful", the academies minister has said. 

Theodore Agnew – the new education minister, who replaced Lord Nash – made the comments after he was asked whether he thought Ofsted should inspect MATs at the education select committee today.

In September this year, the schools watchdog said it wanted to change inspection legislation to allow it to inspect multi-academy trusts.

Ofsted help

But speaking to MPs at the education select committee today, Lord Agnew said he thought it would cause "confusion" in the system. 

He said: "I don't think that it would be helpful for a complete change to the Ofsted inspection framework."

But the minister added: "What I do think would be very helpful – maybe as a preliminary to going further – is that in any inspection the Ofsted inspector should speak to both the CEO and the chair of the academy trust so they start to understand more about the relationship between the trust and the school they are inspecting."

During the meeting, it was pointed out that local education authorities are currently inspected by Ofsted – even though MATs are not. 

Lord Agnew said: "I just feel at the moment it would cause some confusion in the system and I think for me the first step would be for them to reach out to the chief executive and the chair.

"If it a good MAT, I don't think they need that extra level of intervention."

'Checks and balances'

Robert Halfon, chair of the education select committee, said: "The issue at the heart of this is checks and balances when things go wrong. 

"The fact that you don't think Ofsted should inspect them I think kind of sums up that there are not enough checks and balances."

Speaking to MPs today, David Carter, national schools commissioner, agreed with Lord Agnew that he did not think Ofsted should inspect MATs yet. 

He added that he was "concerned" about the schools watchdog's capacity to inspect academy chains. 

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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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