Gloucester Academy transferred to new trust in 2014 faces possible second move

Janet Downs's picture
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Gloucester Academy, a smaller than average secondary school serving one of Gloucestershire’s most deprived areas, has been warned it could be transferred to a new multi-academy trust (MAT) following an Ofsted* inadequate judgement. 

If rebrokerage happens it will be the second move between trusts faced by Gloucester Academy.

Timeline:

Sept 2010: Gloucester Academy began following closure of two schools.  It was jointly sponsored by Prospects Education Services Ltd** and Gloucestershire College under the umbrella of Gloucester Academy Trust (GAT).

2011: John Reilly appointed head after several changes of headteacher and leadership.

2012: Prospects ‘paused’ from sponsoring more academies following concerns about Gloucester Academy.

Oct 2012: Gloucester Academy judged inadequate.  Despite this, Prospects was allowed to take on five more academies.  It later emerged schools minister Lord Hill  appeared to have intervened to ease Prospects’ expansion.  

Sept 2013: Head Reilly left.  Two external consultants appointed as Interim Heads.  13 teachers and 14 support assistants had left.  27 teachers including 7 newly-qualified teachers and 13 support staff appointed.

Feb 2014: Showk Badat appointed principal.

April 2014:  Placed in special measures.  Inspectors noted there’d been eight principals/acting principals since the academy opened.  The academy moved from GAT to Prospects Academes Trust.

May 2014: PAT announced plans to dissolve.  

March 2015:  White Horse Federation (WHF) took over sponsorship of Gloucester Academy.  WHF received £277k in transfer costs.

May 2015: Showk Badat resigns for personal reasons.

June 2015:  Ofsted monitoring:   Interim Principal Steve Colledge appointed.  29 members of staff had left.  33% of lessons between November 2014 and June 2015 had been taught by cover or supply staff.

December 2015:  Ian Frost appointed principal. 

March 2016:  Upgraded to require improvement.

April 2018:  Ofsted: Inadequate.  Met the ‘definition of a coasting academy’.   Nevertheless, outcomes in the sixth form were above national threshold.  Inspectors judged the 16-19 study programme to require improvement.

26 April 2018:  Ian Frost had resigned with immediate effect.  

Late April/May 2018:  Andy Vinton, who worked with the team which took WHF’s Peak Academy from inadequate to good, appointed Interim Principal.

May/June 2018: Regional Schools Commissioner, Liza Mannall, wrote to WHF saying the funding agreement for Gloucester Academy would be terminated if WHF could not support the academy ‘to achieve rapid and sustained improvement’.

Gloucester Academy is obviously struggling.  But how fair is it censure WHF?  Constant changes of staff, particularly in the academy’s early years, cannot have helped.  But nine months after WHF took over, inspectors said its support was ‘now well embedded’. 

When the academy was upgraded to requires improvement, inspectors found principal Frost was providing ‘strong leadership’.   When it was downgraded again Ofsted said WHF’s support hadn’t made an impact ‘until recent months’.  That surely means support is now starting to show fruit.  

Perhaps now is the wrong time to threaten rebrokerage.  This would only result in months of turbulence – longer, if other MATs are reluctant to take on an academy with such a history.

Instead of threatening termination, it might be better if the academy remained with WHF.  The trust has already turned round Peak Academy/Greenfield Academy*** from inadequate to good.  Inspectors noted these two had received ‘good support’ from WHF.  The MAT has a record of improving schools.  Perhaps it should be left alone to improve Gloucester Academy.

 

*Ofsted reports can be downloaded here

**According to final report of Gloucester Academy Trust (y/e 31 March 2014), Gloucester Academy was sponsored by Prospects Educational Trust not Prospects Educational Services.  Lack of clarity about who sponsors academies makes it difficult to discover who’s responsible.  It also throws DfE and Ofsted record-keeping into doubt.

***Pupils at these two academies are taught alongside each other.  Ofsted inspects them jointly and wrote ‘almost identical reports’.

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