Trinity Academy, Doncaster, a sponsored academy established in 2005, was judged Outstanding in March 2011.
overturned this in December 2013. Trinity Academy was placed in special measures. The previously good teaching was inadequate; the curriculum was inadequate; leadership was inadequate. Ofsted said it would “make recommendations about the governance to the authority responsible for the school”. The "authority responsible" is the Emmanuel Schools Foundation which has sponsored Trinity (with a brief interlude when it was sponsored by ULT in 2010/12) since it began.
It appears, then, something has gone wrong at Trinity Academy according to Ofsted. But the chair of governors, Nigel Robson, was the same one who chaired the governing body when Trinity was previously judged Outstanding. The head at the time of the December 2013 inspection, Ian Brew, has led Trinity Academy since it was first established.
On 7 February 2014, when the Ofsted report was published, the Doncaster Free Press
carried a photo of Ian Brew describing him as the Principal of Trinity Academy. Three days later, on 10 February, the Future Leaders Trust tweeted that David Page had been made Acting Principal and boasted how this was “the 66th Future Leader headship appointment!”.
According to the academy's website
Ian Brew has gone into “retirement”. But there’s no details of any presentation or ceremony which usually accompanies the departure of a long-serving head.
Meanwhile, TES carries an advert
, dated 14 February 2014, for a Vice-Principal at Trinity Academy. The information
linked in the advert makes no mention of the recent Inadequate judgement but highlights the Outstanding Ofsted of 2011.
The Board of Directors at Trinity Academy said the Board was “extremely disappointed
” at the Inadequate judgement which came “after nine years of considerable improvement and success”.
The situation at Trinity Academy raises several issues:
1Outstanding judgements are not infinite. The longer ago an Ofsted judgement was made, the less pertinent it is for today. Situations change. But Outstanding schools are usually exempt from Ofsted full inspections unless they raise concern.
2The advert for Acting Principal doesn’t mention the Inadequate rating. An odd omission, in the circumstances.
3There’s no prominent mention of the Inadequate rating on the academy’s website although there’s a link under the heading “Ofsted”. Surely schools have a duty to inform parents immediately about Ofsted judgements? At Trinity Academy, however, comments appeared in the local press but not on the academy’s website.
But the issue that will send a shiver down the spine of heads is the sudden departure of the head. It’s a reminder that a head’s career hangs on Ofsted’s judgements or this year’s exam results. A drop in either of these could result in a request, implied or otherwise, to clear desks and go on “sick leave” or sudden “retirement”. This fear reduces heads’ confidence. At the same time it deters candidates to apply for headships not just for challenging schools but for schools previously judged Outstanding. Unless heads can stay balanced at this precarious peak the only way is down.
Note: Citing Ofsted reports does not imply agreement.