After a number of focused inspections, Ofsted sent a letter to Oasis Community Learning Trust (OCL) expressing concern about performance in some of the chain’s academies (see here
). Yesterday, Ofsted issued a press release
saying it was publishing the letter sent to OCL outlining inspectors’ findings.
But the letter was dated 11 March 2015
, over three months ago.
Accompanying the letter was a list of OCL academies with their most recent inspection results. Some were described as not having had an inspection since becoming an Oasis academy. One of these was Oasis Academy Lister Park. This academy was inspected on 4 February 2015 when it was judged Inadequate. But the report wasn’t made public until 20 March – after the letter of concern was sent.
Oasis Academy Warndon was inspected in May – too late for inclusion in the letter of concern. It was judged Good. The predecessor school, Warndon Primary School Required Improvement. Inspectors praised the ‘strong working partnership between the academy trust and the academy’s governors.’
Oasis Academy Hextable was also inspected after the letter of concern was sent. OCL announced in February it would close this academy
, which it took over in September 2013, because of the difficulty of recruiting pupils. Ofsted judged it to Require Improvement under all four headings in April. The predecessor school, Hextable School, was also judged RI in May 2013 although Quality of teaching, Behaviour and safety of pupils, and Leadership and management had been judged Good.
Oasis has withdrawn its application to open free schools
in Salford and North East Enfield. An undated announcement on OCL’s website says the decision was ‘informed by the DfE’ which asked them to use Targeted Basic Need funding to expand provision. However, an Oasis primary free school in Romford
still plans to open in September 2016.
The three inspections which were not included in the letter of concern confirm OCL’s variable track record: one Good, one RI and one Inadequate. These and the letter raise questions about whether Oasis was allowed to grow too quickly and over too wide an area. Finally, there’s a further question about why publication of the letter of concern was delayed for over three months. A cynic might say this was to avoid negative news about a large, rapidly-growing academy chain being published before the election.
UPDATE 27 June 2015
: There was no similar delay in publishing previous Ofsted letters of concern to academy chains. The letter to E-Act, dated 25 March 2014
, was published on the same day
. The letter to AET, dated 28 August 2014
, was published on 1 September
. The letter to TKAT was delayed by just over two weeks. It was dated 1 July 2014
and was published on 18 July.
The question remains: why was publication of the letter of concern to Oasis delayed by over three months when earlier letters to academy chains were published almost immediately?