“Ofsted already inspects academy chains. It has inspected both E-ACT and AET.”
Education Secretary, Michael Gove, House of Commons
, 24 March 2014
John Denham MP (Labour, Southampton, Itchen) asked Gove whether it wasn’t time for academy chains to be inspected by Ofsted in the same way that local authorities (LAs) were.
The Education Secretary replied that chains were already subjected to such inspections.
It’s true E-Act was the subject of a critical report from the Education Funding Agency (EFA). But EFA isn’t Ofsted.
And it’s true Ofsted inspectors swooped on 16 E-Act academies in a focussed inspection over two weeks in January and February this year. But inspecting individual academies is not the same as inspecting the chain as a whole.
The focussed E-Act inspections revealed concerns about how the chain operated. But these criticisms do not amount to an Ofsted inspection of the whole chain.
But what about AET? The chain, like E-Act, has been paused from taking on more academies. But it was the Observer
, not Ofsted nor the EFA, which found unusual payments had been made to AET trustees. The EFA External Assurance Team
said discussions with the Charities Commission revealed it was not practice for charity trustees to receive remuneration but the report did not name AET individually.
, however, said AET cited an unpublished confidential EFA report which allegedly said, "generally the opinion was [from its academies] that AET provided better services than the predecessor local authorities". AET would not provide the Observer
with a copy of this report.
So, it appears EFA might have written a report on AET at some point but it’s not in the public domain. And it may be Ofsted have done a focussed inspection on a number of AET academies but the results haven’t been published yet. But neither of these comprise an Ofsted inspection of an academy chain.
The Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, who was commended by Gove in the Commons two days ago for saying nice things about him, has come as close as he can to inspecting a chain by ordering focussed inspections. But they are not like Ofsted local authority inspections.
said Gove would be under increasing pressure to allow Ofsted to inspect academy chains following the criticism of E-Act.
But Gove appears to have convinced himself Ofsted already inspects chain. He said so two days ago. He just has to keep on believing his own answers:
“Ofsted already inspects academy chains…Ofsted already inspects academy chains…Ofsted already inspects…”