Is Gove trying to fend off increasing demands to allow Ofsted to inspect academy chains by convincing himself they already happen? It would appear so.

Janet Downs's picture
“Ofsted already inspects academy chains. It has inspected both E-ACT and AET.”

Education Secretary, Michael Gove, House of Commons, 24 March 2014

John Denham MP (Labour, Southampton, Itchen) asked Gove whether it wasn’t time for academy chains to be inspected by Ofsted in the same way that local authorities (LAs) were.

The Education Secretary replied that chains were already subjected to such inspections.

It’s true E-Act was the subject of a critical report from the Education Funding Agency (EFA). But EFA isn’t Ofsted.

And it’s true Ofsted inspectors swooped on 16 E-Act academies in a focussed inspection over two weeks in January and February this year. But inspecting individual academies is not the same as inspecting the chain as a whole.

The focussed E-Act inspections revealed concerns about how the chain operated. But these criticisms do not amount to an Ofsted inspection of the whole chain.

But what about AET? The chain, like E-Act, has been paused from taking on more academies. But it was the Observer, not Ofsted nor the EFA, which found unusual payments had been made to AET trustees. The EFA External Assurance Team said discussions with the Charities Commission revealed it was not practice for charity trustees to receive remuneration but the report did not name AET individually.

The Observer, however, said AET cited an unpublished confidential EFA report which allegedly said, "generally the opinion was [from its academies] that AET provided better services than the predecessor local authorities". AET would not provide the Observer with a copy of this report.

So, it appears EFA might have written a report on AET at some point but it’s not in the public domain. And it may be Ofsted have done a focussed inspection on a number of AET academies but the results haven’t been published yet. But neither of these comprise an Ofsted inspection of an academy chain.

The Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, who was commended by Gove in the Commons two days ago for saying nice things about him, has come as close as he can to inspecting a chain by ordering focussed inspections. But they are not like Ofsted local authority inspections.

The Independent said Gove would be under increasing pressure to allow Ofsted to inspect academy chains following the criticism of E-Act.

But Gove appears to have convinced himself Ofsted already inspects chain. He said so two days ago. He just has to keep on believing his own answers:


“Ofsted already inspects academy chains…Ofsted already inspects academy chains…Ofsted already inspects…”
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Andy V's picture
Wed, 26/03/2014 - 18:59

Janet, I wonder whether this is what Mr Gove considers to be inspection of academy chains? If so, then, he is clearly misguided or misinformed or ... because a summary of the outcomes across a multi-academy chain is simply not the same as the type of Ofsted inspection LAs undergo.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 27/03/2014 - 07:11

Exactly. If Gove doesn't know inspecting a proportion of individual academies in one chain is not the same as inspecting the entire chain (including its head office) then he's incompetent. If so, he should go.

If, on the other hand, he is fully aware inspecting a proportion of a chain's individual academies is not the same as inspecting the entire chain (including its head office) then he's being deceptive. If so, he should go.

In December 2010, when the DfE published the infamous press release comparing PISA results in 2009 with those of 2000 despite a clear warning from OECD they should not be used for comparison, I wrote to the PM saying if Gove was unaware of this prominent warning he was incompetent and should go.

If, on the other hand, he did know then he was misleading the public and should go.

Unfortunately, the PM didn't do as I suggested.

Chris Manners's picture
Fri, 28/03/2014 - 22:45

Where's Tristram Hunt?

agov's picture
Sat, 29/03/2014 - 11:39


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