REAch2, the largest primary-only academy trust, has received a minded to terminate letter re Sprites Primary Academy, Ipswich, following an inadequate judgement in October, the academy’s second consecutive inadequate grading. The predecessor school required improvement.
No funding warning was issued after the first inadequate rating in May 2018. REAch2 also hasn’t received a funding warning re Ranikhet Academy, Reading, judged inadequate in December 2018.
Both schools have received monitoring inspections which suggests they were being given time to improve. Other academies are not so lucky.
The letter to REAch2 was a ‘minded to terminate’ letter, a pre-warning letter. Six other trusts weren’t given this leeway but served with ‘termination warning letters’:
1 Academy Transformation Trust re Ravens Academy, Clacton, downgraded from good.
2 Catch22 re The Everitt Academy, Lowestoft, first inspection of the special free school. This is the second termination letter issued to Catch22. The first was for Fen Rivers Academy, judged inadequate in October.
3 Eastern MAT re King Edward VII Academy, King’s Lynn
4 The Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust re Bishop’s Church of England Primary Academy. The predecessor school required improvement.
5 Empower Learning Academy Trust re Britton’s Academy, Havering. This academy has never been good or better since converting in February 2012. The predecessor school, Brittons School and Technology College, was downgraded from good to satisfactory in 2009.
6 North Essex MAT re Richard de Clere Community Academy, Halstead. The predecessor school was judged good in 2015 before converting in September 2016.
The system of warning academies about possible withdrawal of funding is, as I pointed out here, inconsistent. It also appears unnecessarily unwieldy. There's a hierarchy of letters: pre-warning or ‘minded to terminate’ followed by ‘termination warning’ and ending with a termination notice. There’s even been one ‘notice of provisional intention to terminate’: to the notorious Durand Academy Trust (now defunct but its associated Durand Educational Trust is trying to squeeze compensation from the Department of Education).
But Regional Schools Commissioners, the officials who send out the warnings, don’t stick to this hierarchy as the cases above demonstrate. Six academies above weren’t sent 'minded to terminate' letters. Perhaps this stage should be scrapped if RSCs feel they can leap-frog the pre-warning stage..
If some academies are given time to improve, as happened with the two REAch2 academies mentioned above, then other academies should also be given this time unless there are pressing reasons why there should not be. The same probation time should be given to inadequate local authority schools.