‘Inspirational and dedicated strategic leadership’ is provided by the chief executive officer, Dr Jennifer Blunden, at Truro and Penwith Academy Trust (TPAT) in Cornwall, said Ofsted in its first ever ‘summary evaluation’ of a multi-academy trust (MAT).
TPAT provides ‘high-quality support’ described by TPAT’s leaders as ‘challenge without fear’. The trust does not ‘insist on uniformity’ throughout the trust. Heads within the trust feel ‘supported and empowered’.
TPAT has had success in improving inadequate schools. It sponsors four schools previously judged inadequate; three of these have since been graded good. Another 13 TPAT schools have been inspected since joining the trust – 12 remained good and one declined to requires improvement.
The overall tone of TPAT’s summary evaluation was positive although inspectors found ‘the number of children reaching a good level of development, the expected standard by the end of the Reception Year, is below the national average.’
Inspectors praised maths performance: ‘more pupils are reaching the higher standard in mathematics than others nationally’. Surprisingly, inspectors didn’t comment on the progress scores of the four primary academies which had been with TPAT for three years or more. Government data for 2018 shows progress in writing was average but reading and maths was below average.
Attendance remains a ‘challenge’, inspectors said, noting this was mainly due to pupils taking holidays during term-time. But If parents aren’t deterred by fines, there’s nothing heads can do except stress the importance of children not taking time off during terms. If parents ignore this then it seems unfair to blame schools.
Ofsted’s regional director for the south west of England, Bradley Simmons, told Schools Week TPAT understood its ‘strengths and weaknesses’ and used this knowledge to ‘target improvement activity where it is needed’. TPAT remained ‘focused on improving children and young people’s life chances.’
CORRECTION 12.04 Typo corrected.