Funding warning for REAch2 re academy twice judged inadequate

Janet Downs's picture

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.

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Jane's picture
Sat, 25/01/2020 - 15:41

One has to wonder why Reach 2 and Reach 4 (renamed Astrea) have, over the years, been given such sympathetic treatment, given that both have had problems. This are just some of the things I have on my list:

Jun-14 REAch2 Garden City Academy (primary) Requires improvement
Mar-16 Reach2 Broadmead Primary 3rd Acting Principal in 4 mnths Head suspended
Jun-16 Reach2 Garden City Academy Requires Improvement
Oct-16 Reach2 Copperfield Academy Requires improvement (open 2013)
Jan-17 Reach2 Broadmead Primary handed over from Reach2
Apr-17 Reach4 Change of name to Astrea Academy Trust
May-17 Reach4 Greengate Lane Academy Governing body disbanded to avoid leaving trustt
Jun-17 Reach2 Castle Hill Academy "Inadequate" - handed over from Reach2
Aug-18 Reach2 Copperfield Academy Huge loss of staff- 80 over 5 years
Oct-18 Reach South Parkfield Free School School waiting for sponsor for 2 years
Oct-18 Reach South UTC Plymouth was rated inadequate now taken over by Reach S.
Apr-19 Reach 2 Copperfield Academy Letter "minded to terminate"
Sep-19 Reach South Goosewell Primary Academy Axing 32 jobs

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 27/01/2020 - 08:56

Thanks, Jane, for this comprehensive summary.   I had missed Reach2's 'minded to terminate' letter.  That's because the DfE only name the academy subject to the warning not the trust that runs it.  This means that a trust with multiple warnings, such as Reach2, are not prominent.  Another 'minded to terminate' letter, not a 'termination warning' - this raises the question why the RSC is being more lenient with Reach2 than with other trusts.

Peter Read's picture
Sat, 25/01/2020 - 16:09

From my website: in an article entitled 'Stuck Schools': Copperfield Academy, Gravesham. Previously Dover Road Primary. Disaster school for the past 15 years under both KCC and REach2 Academy Trust (from 2013). Multiple articles, most recently here, and originally hereOfsted Record: July 2008 - unclear but from 2011 Report, less than Good; July 2011- Special Measures;  November 2013 became a sponsored academy with REach2; September 2016 - Requires Improvement; January 2019 - Special Measures. Since then there have been two glowing Monitoring Inspection Reports, clearly oblivious of the very poor KS2 performance in 2019. Also 2019, there was discussion at National Commissioner Level, redacted copy here, about possibly rebrokering Copperfield to another Trust, a Sussex Trust being interested but is reported to have withdrawn. The question now is: will the good Monitoring Inspections hold sway, or will the dreadful KS2 results see Copperfield taken away from the Trust that has failed it for the past six years. 

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