Head of Ofsted raises concerns about independent academies

A new report from Ofsted has revealed that academies not in multi-academy trust are failing at a higher rate than those in them.

The report found that of the 89 converter academies that saw performance decline, 66 were not in a multi-academy trust.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, has said he was “disturbed” by the figures published in the organisation’s latest annual report, released earlier this week.

The report revealed that 60 per cent of the 3,372 secondary schools in England are now academies, but added: “more than 2,000 academies are not part of a multi-academy trust . . . some have become isolated. Isolation can lead to underperformance.”

In response Sir Michael said: “These figures are disturbing. We have to ask whether the necessary challenge, support and intervention for these academies have been put into place quickly enough.”

“These inspections have called into question the nature and extent of the accountabilities associated with the high levels of autonomy currently enjoyed by academies.

“They also raise concerns about the effectiveness of the local authority to hold schools and governing bodies to account.”

During his statement he urged people to move away from the debate on school structures and look at what schools were doing right and develop and share these ideas to make education better.

He said: “The time has now come to move away from the debate that has raged for the past five years about school structures and towards a sharper focus on what works in all schools, regardless of their model or status.”

This report highlights the strength of multi-academy trusts and may encourage more independent academies to consider joining a larger chain.

The benefits of being in a chain highlighted in previous reports include additional support from other schools in the group and the ability to benefit from economies of scale.

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