South Nottingham College Academy Trust
This small trust
was established by Central College Nottingham, a further education college which acts as sponsor to two academies: South Nottinghamshire College Academy and Top Valley Academy.
Ofsted judged South Nottinghamshire Academy to be good in May 2013. Inspectors noted the close relationship between sponsor and academy. There were “effective arrangements” for communications between the two which tracked achievement and attendance. Ofsted also noted the “productive relationship with the local authority” which provided external evaluation.
The 2013 GCSE cohort at South Nottinghamshire Academy was heavily skewed to the top end with 53% previously high-attaining pupils, 40% previously middle-attainers and 6% previously low-attaining ones. However, only 47% of this cohort achieved the benchmark*.
Top Valley Academy became an academy in September 2012 and has not yet been inspected. Its predecessor school, Top Valley School and Engineering College, was judged Satisfactory in 2011. The 2013 GCSE cohort was slightly skewed to the bottom of the ability range: 45% of this cohort reached the benchmark. 57% had reached the benchmark* in 2012 when the GCSE cohort was broadly comprehensive .
Care should be taken when judging schools according to their results alone. They need to be checked against intake. But such low results at South Nottinghamshire Academy with its high proportion of previously high-attaining pupils are a cause for concern. Only 68% of the previously high-attaining pupils achieved the benchmark*. The national average for such pupils is 94.7%.
The Learning Schools Trust
The Learning Schools Trust operates four academies on behalf of for-profit Swedish firm, Kunskapsskolan. Ofsted
judged two of them to Require Improvement and a third, Ipswich Academy, which had been officially opened by Michael Gove
in November 2013, was judged Inadequate the previous July. A fourth academy, Elizabeth Woodville Schools, has not yet been inspected.
Kunskapsskolan schools all use “KED pedagogies” – Ofsted was not particularly impressed.
In 2008, when Kunskapsskolan announced its interest in English schools, it said:
“The ambition is for 30 academies as well as a handful of profit-generating independent schools in England over the next 10 years.”
Peje Emilsson, chair of Kunskapsskolan, spoke to the US-based, libertarian think-tank, the Cato Institute
, in 2011. He told the audience his firm could increase test results at a 20% cheaper cost. In the UK, he said, he had told his “Conservative friends” he could do it even more cheaply. Emilsson, according to the Cato Institute, believes a “competitive for-profit market” which has proved so successful when selling “cell phones and coffee shops” could be a “mechanism for replicating what works”.
It doesn’t appear to have done so in the three Kunskapsskolan academies inspected so far.
*The benchmark for Y11 pupils is 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) A*-C including Maths and English.
Notes: Pre-warning letters to academies can be downloaded here
. Ofsted reports can be downloaded here
23 March 2014. The headline has been changed. It was originally "Halted academy chains: here are two more."