Ofsted gets green light to inspect academy chains

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The Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan MP, has clarified her position on whether Ofsted should be given powers to inspect chains of academies.

As more and more primary and secondary schools move away from local authority control to become academies, increasing numbers of those converting are joining academy chains. In response to this trend, Ofsted has been pushing the government for greater powers to inspect not only the academies themselves, but the multi-academy trusts (MATs) that run them.

In a recent letter sent to Sir Michael Wilshaw, Head of Ofsted, the Education Secretary has responded to this call and set out her position on how MAT inspections should be carried out. The central message is that the inspectorate can inspect academy chains and should publish information about whether they have been inspected, but it cannot make judgements about whether or not a MAT is effective.

The letter further clarifies that Ofsted should continue to conduct "batch" inspections of academies that are all run by the same trust; and that once these inspections have taken place, Ofsted should meet with staff from the associated MAT to discuss the performance of the academies in that group. MAT inspections should include consideration of "the arrangements the MAT has made for the effective overseeing, challenge and support of individual academies". There will be no formal extension of Ofsted's inspection powers.

To read the full letter, please click here.