Academy propaganda - closing academies for ‘fresh start’ likely to reduce number of inadequate academies
Both records show no data about inspections for Baxter College. It hasn’t been inspected yet because it’s a new academy.
This is odd because Baxter College originally converted to academy status in September 2012. It was a new academy over four years ago.
Why, then, has an academy which was new in 2012 been reborn again in 2017?
The answer is on the DfE record. Baxter College, newly opened in 2012, was closed in 2017 for a ‘fresh start’.
Baxter College was judged good in March 2012 when a local authority maintained school. It rapidly converted to academy status. But when Ofsted visited in 2015, the academy was placed in special measures.
Ofsted monitoring in May 2016 showed ‘Commissioned support from the local authority is proving helpful’. As an academy, however, Baxter College couldn’t revert to being under LA stewardship even if it wished to do so. The academy’s trustees decided to join the Severn Academies Educational Trust (SAET). £80k was given to SAET when Baxter College transferred in January 2017*.
Closing an academy and reopening it for a fresh start means any inadequate judgement is likely to disappear from DfE statistics. This would deflate the number of inadequate academies in the same way as carrying forward outstanding judgements from LA-maintained predecessor schools to converter academies inflates the number of outstanding academies.
This is statistical jiggery-pokery. It also raises the question of how many failing academies are being closed for a fresh start thereby allowing any poor Ofsted ratings for academies to be rubbed out.
Baxter College isn’t a one-off. Callington Community College, Cornwall, closed in September 2016 for the same reason. It, too, had been judged inadequate as an academy. Ofsted monitored Callington CC in June 2017 and noted the ‘predecessor’ school had been placed in special measures. But does the inadequate rating for the predecessor school still appear in DfE statistics?
A variation of ‘fresh start’ is ‘change in status’. This is the reason given for Ely College opening in September 2016. Its record says it has no Ofsted data. The Ofsted link shows an undated academy conversion letter which names the predecessor school as Ely College URN 137779. But Ely College URN 137779 was already a converter academy – it joined CfBT in January 2012.
Ely College was judged inadequate on 2015. The academy was transferred to Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT) in September 2016 when the change of status took place. CMAT received £686k in academy transfer fees for Ely College*.
It appears the DfE is allowing academies to convert to, er, academies. And, like ‘fresh start’, it allows inadequate ratings for academies to be wiped from DfE data.
If this is happening, it is unacceptable.