OFSTED: Diocese of Leicester Academy Trust changed culture but future progress could be hampered by funding issues
The Chief Executive of the Diocese of Leicester Academy Trust (DLAT), David Morris, transformed culture at the trust, inspectors wrote after a focused review of six DLAT academies last November. This change enabled DLAT academies to ‘work more collaboratively and support school improvement more effectively’ than in the past.
Inspectors said leadership changes had increased school improvement activity which had in turn led to improved teaching quality and pupils’ outcomes.
Academy leaders within the Trust were ‘very positive about the pastoral support they receive’. Inspectors described DLAT as ‘inclusive and supportive’.
Ofsted found the recently-appointed governance support officer had ‘increased vigour and drive’ within DLAT’s governance.
Inspectors criticised DLAT for being ‘too slow to establish a clear vision’. This lack of ‘clear strategic direction’ was impeding whole-Trust improvement.
DLAT had fourteen primary academies, inspectors wrote. But many were ‘very small’. This had implications for funding and had reduced DLAT’s ‘capacity for school improvement’. This was despite the noted ‘determination and industry’ of those involved in improving DLAT academies.
DLAT was addressing the ‘need to provide value for money’ and was working to ‘deliver support and improvement in a cost-effective manner', wrote inspectors. The Trust was considering collaborating with other academies in the diocese which were not part of DLAT.
Ofsted’s remarks about funding highlight the difficulties faced by multi-academy trusts (MATs) and local authorities with a large number of small schools. Already inadequate funding has to be spread more thinly. This reduces the ability of both local authorities and MATs to channel sufficient resources to school improvement. Determination and drive isn’t enough – they need to be adequately funded.