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 If there are similar letters still unpublished, Ofsted should release them immediately and confirm there are no others pending.
The Ofsted (via GovUK) press release
, dated 9 July 2015, has just popped into my mailbox.