Earlier this week, Ofsted published their judgement after inspecting the Northern Education Trust. The Trust’s response to this can be read in full below:
The Trust welcomed the request made by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector to carry out a focused review of nine of twenty of our academies in November 2016. We are pleased that the review recognises that “Principals and governors are fulsome in their praise for the support they receive”. Such acknowledgement is rare in a review of this kind. They also identify the challenge of the task of taking on schools “that have much higher levels of deprivation found nationally”.
We also welcome the review’s appreciation that “the school improvement strategy is on a firmer footing”. However, we are astonished by the lateness of the report which is therefore incapable of recognising the effect of the significant developments in our school improvement strategy since 2016. Ofsted has apologised for the inconvenience that the delay has caused, but we recognise that the regional offices are under increasing pressure due to their diminishing capacity.
We have made significant new appointments, injected substantial resources and made major changes to our systems over the last six months.
We are also concerned that there has been no acknowledgement of the Trust’s existing ‘Supporting Schools to Improve’ policy and arrangements despite evidence of this being supplied to Ofsted twice.
The Northern Education Trust took on the challenge of working with a group of schools, most of which had a history of endemic failure, at the request of the DfE and local authorities four year ago. When NET took them over from local authorities, many schools were not popular with parents and carers. Often they were not financially sustainable and they had limited support from business and local communities. Indeed, one could reasonably argue that many fell into the category that the Education Select Committee recently called ‘untouchable’ schools.