Late publication of Ofsted focussed inspection letters to academy trusts is getting beyond a joke

Janet Downs's picture

There was a time when Ofsted published letters about focussed inspections of academies in multi-academy trusts (MATs) almost immediately. 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 2014. The letter to TKAT was delayed by just over two weeks. It was dated 1 July 2014 and was published on 18 July 2014.

But there have been a string of letters to MATs about focussed inspection which have been delayed. The letter to Oasis Community Learning Trust (OCL) expressing concern about some Oasis academies was sent to OCL on 11 March 2015 but wasn’t made public until over three months had passed. A letter to Collaborative Academies Trust (CAT) was similarly delayed until after the election.

These weren’t the only delayed letters. Ofsted sent a positive letter to Wakefield Academies Trust on 21 May 2015 – it wasn’t published until 10 July. And the letter of concern to CfBT, also sent on 21 May 2015, wasn’t made public until 11 September. It’s unclear why both these letters sent on the same day couldn’t have been published simultaneously and more quickly.

Yesterday Ofsted published another letter of concern. This was to The Education Fellowship, which had been given a Financial Notice to Improve in April 2014. This was lifted in March 2015. Publication of the letter was delayed by four months – it was dated 12 June 2015.

Delayed publication is unacceptable. This is especially true now the Education and Adoption Bill which makes enforced academy conversion much easier is passing through Parliament. It’s clear the Government wants to downplay any negative publicity about MATs.

Delayed publication avoids several critical letters about MATs appearing at once. Staggering publication allows such letters to slip out unnoticed.

Delayed publication prevents negative publicity being brought to the attention of the public. How many more such letters are stuck in the pipeline? Ofsted must publish them all without further delay.

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Sylvia HART's picture
Thu, 15/10/2015 - 07:28

Thank you for bringing this to public attention. The LSN keeps us informed. It doesn't pay to know only one side to a story and can be very misleading.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 15/10/2015 - 13:32

Sylvia - I've just put in a Freedom of Information request to Ofsted to list all MATs which have had letters re focussed inspections, the date the letter was sent and the date the letter was made public. This should reveal how many more, if any, are in the pipeline and have been similarly delayed.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 16/10/2015 - 13:19

It seems it's not just Ofsted which is not publishing stuff (that's if it is Ofsted and not those behind the GovUK website). Schools Week reports how the promised draft Teaching Assistants Standards report has been shelved. This has greatly annoyed panel members who worked on the standards at the request of the DfE. They weren't even told the report wouldn't be published. Nick Gibb said:

'The government believes that schools are best placed to decide how they use and deploy teaching assistants, and to set standards for the teaching assistants they employ.'

'The secretary of state has therefore decided not to publish the draft standards.'

A cynic might say letting schools set their own standards for TAs would mean they could adopt standards lower than those proposed in the draft report and pay TAs accordingly.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 16/10/2015 - 13:30

Schools Week's editor, Laura McInerney, slams the decision not to publish the TA report here.

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