The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) has cleared Cuckoo Hall Academy, part of the Cuckoo Hall Academies Trust (CHAT), of exam maladministration. In a letter dated 24 July 2015, STA said it was ‘satisfied that there is no ground for any further investigation. Therefore, this case is now closed and no action will be taken.’
CHAT runs four primary academies and one secondary academy in Enfield. The Education Funding Agency (EFA) sent CHAT a Financial Notice to Improve
(FNO) in February 2015 after a damning report
found unreported conflicts of interests, insufficient monitoring of credit card spending and issues around safeguarding. The FNO has not yet been lifted.
The CHAT press release said ‘We have always been clear that our results are down to the hard work of our students, excellent teaching, and the culture of high standards that runs through our schools
.’ This doesn’t quite explain the dip in test results at Cuckoo Hall Academy in 2013 when the school was the worst-performing primary school in Enfield - just 54% reached Level 4 in Key Stage 2 SATS. Or why results in 2014 (76%) were slightly below the national average of 78%.
Headline results aren’t everything of course. It’s unfair to judge schools solely on test outcomes. But it’s possible that Cuckoo Hall would fall into the Government’s proposed definition of ‘coasting’ despite Ofsted judging Cuckoo Hall to be Good.
None of CHAT’s other academies has posted results yet. They are recently established free schools filling up year by year. No pupils have reached the age when they will take SATs or GCSEs. The dates when the free schools were set up appear on CHAT’s website. According to the information given, Cuckoo Hall Academy was set up in 2010
. This is strictly speaking true – Cuckoo Hall converted to academy status in September 2010 from a predecessor school also called Cuckoo Hall. Academies are technically ‘new’ schools but comparisons are made between these ‘new’ schools and their predecessors. For example, in February 2015, CHAT’s website said:
‘In special measures 14 years ago, Cuckoo Hall Academy was turned round dramatically by Headteacher Patricia Sowter and her team.
Fourteen years ago is not 2010.
The Advertising Standards Authority queried the accuracy of this statement. Cuckoo Hall had emerged from special measures in 1999 before Sowter arrived and an Ofsted report, also before Sowter arrived, said Cuckoo Hall was a ‘very effective school’. The claim about the dramatic turnaround no longer appears on CHAT’s website.