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25 March 2014 David Moran CEO and Accounting Officer E-ACT Third Floor 10 Whitfield Street London W1T 2RE
Dear David Inspections of academies within E-ACT, a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) I am writing to inform you of the outcomes of the inspections of academies within EACT Multi-Academy Trust carried out between 28 January and 7 February 2014. Ofsted inspected 16 of the 34 individual academies in the Trust. These academies were already scheduled for inspection in the current academic year, with the exception of two outstanding academies that were identified for inspection through our routine risk assessment process. Ofsted conducted these inspections within a two-week period because of wider concerns about the performance of academies in the Trust. In summary, these concerns were that:
E-ACT had the lowest proportion of good and outstanding academies of the 10 largest Multi-Academy Trusts. Several of these academies have been part of the Trust for over three years.
Eleven out of the 18 E-ACT academies inspected prior to this focused inspection activity were judged to be less than good.
Of the four E-ACT academies that had been inspected twice, three saw their inspection judgements decline from satisfactory to inadequate.
Seven of the 12 E-ACT secondary academies, for which we have data, were in the lowest 40% of similar schools for progress made in English. Eight of these 12 academies were in the lowest 40% of similar schools for progress made in mathematics.
Key Stage 4 attainment is low across the E-ACT academies for which we have data.
In 2013, none of the 20 schools with published performance data succeeded in reaching the national figure of 59.2% of pupils achieving five or more A*-C GCSE grades (including English and mathematics).
In 2013, for the majority of E-ACT academies, Key Stage 4 attainment for pupils known to be eligible for free school meals was lower than the national figure for this group.
Outline of focused inspection activities Of the 16 academies inspected, six were primary and 10 were secondary. One primary academy was a free school. All of the academies had been open for at least four terms (see Annex 1). During the inspections, lead inspectors gathered information on the quality and impact of the support provided by E-ACT to Principals and governors. The following questions, in particular, were asked: How well does the Trust understand the academy’s strengths and weaknesses, performance, and the standards that the pupils achieve? What measures has the Trust put in place to support and challenge the academy, and how well do these meet the needs of the academy? What has been the impact of the Trust’s support and challenge over time to bring about academy improvement? Principals were also asked: To what extent does the academy, if it is ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, support other academies to improve? How does the Trust facilitate or support this? Or: To what extent does the Trust recognise that performance was not ‘good’ or better before it was inspected, and how does the academy receive support from the Trust in order to improve?
Inspection outcomes Of the 16 academies inspected as part of the focused inspection activity: Five academies were judged to require ‘special measures’. Eleven academies were failing to provide a ‘good’ education. Ten academies had not improved since their previous inspection (either as an academy or as the predecessor school). Of these, six academies had declined in terms of their Ofsted grade (two had been sponsored by E-ACT for four years or more). Only four academies were judged to be ‘good’ and one was judged ‘outstanding’. This means that an overwhelming proportion of pupils attending the E-ACT academies inspected were not receiving a good education. The evidence collected during these inspections indicates that intervention and support provided by E-ACT was ineffective overall. For those academies judged to require ‘special measures’, the Trust failed to take effective action to improve performance. The inspections highlighted key weaknesses across many of the 16 academies. These included: poor quality teaching, with the work set in lessons inadequately matched to pupils’ abilities; weak monitoring and poor use of performance data by senior leaders who did not know where teaching needed to improve; failure to give pupils a clear understanding of how to improve through effective marking and assessment; poor quality assurance by middle leaders; a lack of urgency in taking effective action to close the gap between disadvantaged pupils and others; insufficiently challenging lessons for more able students; weak governance. During the inspections, senior staff informed inspectors that E-ACT had, until 1 September 2013, deducted a proportion of the pupil premium funding from each academy. It is unclear how these deducted funds are being used to improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.
In summary, the outcomes of these inspections indicate that E-ACT has not been effective in improving its academies. Although Principals report some recent improvements to the Trustâ€™s leadership of its academies, inspectors have not yet seen this impacting on standards. There is an urgent need for E-ACT to take action to tackle underperformance in a relatively large number of academies in the Trust and to ensure that pupilsâ€™ achievement rises to a good standard. I am, of course, willing to meet with you to discuss this further. Yours sincerely
Lorna Fitzjohn Regional Director, West Midlands
Annex 1 E-ACT Academies inspected between 28 January and 7 February 2014 Academy Name
Hartsbrook E-ACT Free School Nechells Primary E-ACT Academy Heartlands Academy Shenley Academy North Birmingham Academy Reedswood E-ACT Academy West Walsall E-ACT Academy E-ACT Blackley Academy Parkwood Academy
Previous Inspection grade grade including predecessor grade 28/08/2012 N/A 4
West West West West West
01/09/2009 01/09/2009 04/01/2010 01/09/2012 01/09/2012
1 1 2 3* 3*
1 2 3 3 4
North West North East, Yorkshire and Humber North East, Yorkshire and Humber South West
01/01/2012 4* 01/09/2009 3
East Midlands North West
01/09/2012 3* 01/09/2010 3
The Purston E-ACT Academy Ilminster Avenue E-ACT Academy Chalfont Valley E-ACT Primary Academy Burnham Park E-ACT Academy Sherwood E-ACT Academy The Winsford E-ACT Academy The Parker E-ACT Academy
Midlands Midlands Midlands Midlands Midlands
Opening Date as Academy
*denotes grade awarded to predecessor school.