Ofsted releases another delayed academy letter. How many more sent before the election are still in the pipeline?

Janet Downs's picture
Ofsted has today published a letter of concern to the Collaborative Academies Trust (CAT). Inspectors criticised slow improvement, variable achievement and weaknesses in some features in CAT’s academies, including early years provision.

CAT is the charitable arm of EdisonLearning, a for-profit education provider. According to an Independent article (September 2013), EdisonLearning isn’t interested in making money out of English schools. But when EdisonLearning first appeared in England, the Guardian reported Sam Freedman, who later became an advisor to ex-Education Secretary Michael Gove, as saying its arrival ‘signals that soon companies might be allowed to profit from providing good education in the UK.’

Freedman has since changed his mind about allowing schools to be run for profit.

EdisonLearning took over Turin Grove School (formerly Salisbury School), Edmonton, in April 2007 when Labour was in power. Salisbury School was already an improving school having come out of Special Measures in 2005. EdisonLearning took credit for the rise in GCSE results from 11% to 22% achieving 5+ A*-C including Maths and English in 2007 despite having been at Salisbury for just one month before pupils took exams. Results rose slowly to 27% in 2009 and 2010. This modest improvement was hailed as a success.

Now Ofsted, following focused inspections, has found EdisonLearning, via CAT, hasn’t delivered the promised chain-wide improvement. The letter to CAT was dated 27 March 2015 but has only now been published.

This is the second letter expressing concern to an academy chain dated before the election which has not been published until after the election. A letter to Oasis was similarly delayed. Earlier Ofsted letters of concern sent to E-Act, AET and TKAT were not delayed. They were published almost immediately. The longest delay was to TKAT – just over two weeks.

These delays raise two questions:


1How many more letters of concern to academy chains are in the pipeline?
2Why were these two letters more than three months late in being published?

The Government is in the process of pushing its Education and Academies Bill through Parliament. This is based on a belief in academy conversion, particularly with a sponsor, as being the only method of improving schools. This conviction borders on zealotry.

Meanwhile, another academy chain is found wanting. If there are similar letters still unpublished, Ofsted should release them immediately and confirm there are no others pending.

UPDATE: The Ofsted (via GovUK) press release , dated 9 July 2015, has just popped into my mailbox.
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mistemina's picture
Thu, 09/07/2015 - 11:04

Why is this Government doing this?
Surely it must know there a dangers lurking!

Roger Titcombe's picture
Thu, 09/07/2015 - 15:21

John - I don't think they are aware of the dangers.

Here is a link to an argument from America expressing general concern at schools being run by those that lack any classroom experience. I think a lot of this is pertinent to our failing Academy Chains, not to mention our NHS Foundation Trusts being run by Executive Directors straight out of business schools.


I have a lot of time for Nancy Bailey. The parallels are very clear when you get under the Americanisms. I have signed up to get posts on her website, which I recommend.

Michele -Lowe's picture
Thu, 09/07/2015 - 11:12

John, they're still committed to academisation. George Osborne made a point of referring to the academy conversion programme yesterday in his Budget Speech.

mistemina's picture
Thu, 09/07/2015 - 12:13

''We will be bold in transforming education''
It would help if the Government understood which ares needed transformation!

In general, it was a sop to the right wing, misery for the lowest earners and the most vulnerable in society. Piled more taxation on companies and rich individuals (Stolen the Lib Dem). Did i see he robbed Labour of their policies too. Which he was rubbished.
Savage cuts will greatly impoverish many low-paid workers, the disabled and children
Zero deficit pushed back further.

Jane Eades's picture
Thu, 09/07/2015 - 15:32

It would be interesting to know if Ofsted delayed the letters or if they were delayed as a result of an appeal. I have noticed that when the Ofsted report is unflattering there is often a delay of about 3 months before publication.

However, I think we have long become used to the idea that Ofsted is a political organisation.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 10/07/2015 - 08:49

Ofsted has today released another letter. It's to Wakefield City Academies Trust dated 21 May. It's far more positive than previous such letters. But, again, why the delay especially as it's unlikely the Trust would appeal?

Again, how many more such letters sent weeks ago (and especially before the election) are still pending?

agov's picture
Fri, 10/07/2015 - 08:58

Then presumably there must be a lot of exceptional circumstances. Ofsted say - We don’t normally withhold publication of an inspection report or withdraw a published inspection report while we investigate complaints about an inspection, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

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