Ofsted must hold MAT chiefs to account, say MPs

MP and former teacher launches bill to give Ofsted the power to inspect multi-academy trust boards

John Roberts

Ofsted: MP Jonathan Gullis has put forward a bill that would allow Ofsted to inspect multi-academy trusts

The loophole that means Ofsted is not required to inspect multi-academy trusts "risks creating new education authorities that are not accountable" to teachers, pupils or parents, an MP has warned.

Former teacher and current Commons Education Select Committee member Jonathan Gullis has put forward a bill to enable the watchdog to inspect the boards of MATs but it is unlikely to become law because of a lack of parliamentary time, it has been suggested.

It has been backed by committee chairman Robert Halfon, Labour shadow education minister Emma Hardy and leading Liberal Democrat and the party's former education spokesperson Layla Moran.

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Currently, Ofsted does not have the power to inspect MATs but has been doing summary evaluations of their work through a batch of inspections of schools in the same trust.

Mr Gullis said that individual academies were inspected by Ofsted, as well as children’s social services, adding “so why aren’t multi-academy trusts inspected, too?”.

'Why doesn't Ofsted inspect multi-academy trusts?'

He said: “I worry that this loophole risks creating a new group of educational authorities that are unaccountable to teachers, parents and pupils.”

Mr Gullis added: “To have a fair and consistent system, MATs and their leadership need to be accountable in the same way that teachers are.”

Parents and teachers, he said, “must have confidence in the leadership of academy trusts”.

He referenced past multi-academy trust scandals and the issue of high pay among some MAT chief executives.

He said: “Over the years various scandals have appeared in the papers – trusts paying for the lease of a new Jaguar for their chief executive. Trusts paying thousands for first-class travel and high-class hotel rooms, and even trusts paying transatlantic flights."

Mr Gullis added: “I’m a big supporter of the drive for academisation and I hope that all schools will become academies. I’m not against trusts expanding, but where they are encouraged to do so it must be for the right reasons.”

He went on: “There must be fairness, transparency and accountability because, as it stands, there is glaring inconsistency.”

His bill would amend Section 5 of the Education Act 2005 so that Ofsted may inspect the governing bodies of multi-academy trusts.

Mr Gullis said: “This is not about creating another layer of bureaucracy or more hoops for teachers to jump through. My bill is about adding accountability for the trustees of MATs and, in my mind, there should be no extra work for teachers.”

Bringing MATs under the Ofsted inspection regime “would ensure that they are playing their full role”, he said.

His Multi-Academy Trusts (Ofsted Inspection) Bill was listed for a second reading on 28 January next year, but is unlikely to become law due to limited time to address it in Parliament.

Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, has previously questioned why the inspectorate does not have the power to be able to inspect MATs.

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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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