Long-established Oasis, a MAT with 53 academies, may lose funding for its Oldham academy

Janet Downs's picture

Oasis Community Learning, which has run academies since 2007, has been sent a warning letter threatening to withdraw funding for one of its 53 academies: Oasis Academy Oldham (OA Oldham).

OA Oldham was first graded inadequate in 2012 before being judged to require improvement twice.  It was downgraded to inadequate in November 2018*.

Despite the inadequate rating, inspectors said:

The newly appointed principal and other senior leaders have a precise understanding of the school’s weaknesses. They have taken effective action to bring about necessary change.’

Inspectors said OA Oldham had successfully coped with ‘a significant proportion of pupils’ joining the academy across different year groups in 2017 following the closure of the Collective Spirit free school.

Perhaps the threat to withdraw funding could have been delayed to allow the new principal's 'effective action' to bear fruit.

Vicky Beer, Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) for Lancashire and West Yorkshire, sent the ‘minded to terminate’ letter to Oasis on 13 February, ten working days after receiving notification of the inadequate judgement.

Beer also sent a ‘minded to terminate’ funding letter to Abbey Multi Academy Trust regarding funding for Lightcliffe Academy, a secondary school in Halifax, on 13 February, fourteen working days after she was told about Lightcliffe’s downgrading to special measures.

Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High School, an inadequate converter academy, was taken over by Abbey MAT in March 2015 as a sponsored academy.  It was renamed Lightcliffe Academy and upgraded to requires improvement in 2016 before falling back to inadequate in November 2018**. 

Abbey MAT received £106,400 in transfer fees over three years for taking over Hipperholme***.  Before converting in 2012, the predecessor school, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High School and Sports College had been judged good.

Beer was the RSC responsible for sending Star Academies a warning letter regarding Highfield Leadership Academy after just three days from being told about its inadequate rating.  This swift action, as I said here, raises questions about inconsistency in the way inadequate academies are treated.   Concerns about this apparent lack of uniformity across England have been raised further after two inadequate E-ACT academies were quickly sent warning letters while two E-ACT academies which had been inadequate for longer had not received them.


*Report not published on Ofsted’s website until 7 February 2019

**Report not published on Ofsted’s website until 24 January 2019

***Data downloadable here

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