Ofsted: England’s biggest academy chain is ‘failing too many pupils’

The TES is reporting that Ofsted has found that AET – the country’s largest academy chain – is “failing too many pupils”

In a letter published this morning, the watchdog said almost half of the Academies Enterprise Trust’s (AET) secondary pupils attended schools rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement”, and that the performance of the trust’s secondary schools was “mediocre”.

Four in 10 of its primary pupils attended schools rated less than good, Ofsted said. The regulator added that children from poor backgrounds did “particularly badly” in the trust – which runs 67 schools – and that attendance levels were “unacceptably low”.

But Ian Comfort, AET’s chief executive, said the trust’s schools were improving and that Ofsted had only visited a small proportion.

He told TES that he wanted a better process for inspections of academy chains and that he would not resign…

[The Ofsted letter] says…

“A few secondary academies can point to marked improvements in pupils’ rates of progress and improved attainment,”

“In others, however, attainment has dropped significantly. This calls into question the effectiveness and impact of the trust’s improvement strategies.”

It said the trust must improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils “as a matter of urgency”.

More at Ofsted: England’s biggest academy chain is ‘failing too many pupils’


Read or download the letter from ofsted in full at:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://4cpa373vsw6v3t1suthjdjgv-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/AET_outcome_letter_November_2015_inspection.pdf”]


Thoughts and reactions to the letter or (from the full article) the defence from AET’s Ian Comfort?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Academies, Primary and Secondary.


  1. Nairb1

    The DfE’s response to yet another report of academy chain failure was to claim that “The academies system allows us to spot and intervene in underperformance far more quickly than in council-run schools.’
    Diversionary tactics at their most inane. Again.

  2. There’s a mismatch between Ofsted figures and those given by AET.  For example, AET says just 6% of its academies are Inadequate; Ofsted says 7 out of 66 are Inadequate.  That’s 10.6%.
    AET also says the proportion of Inadequate AET has fallen.  That could be because 5 Inadequate AET academies were transferred to other chains.  Surprise, surprise, this reduces the proportion of Inadequate AET academies.
    More analysis here:  http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2016/02/academy-chain-aet-still-causing-concern-ofsted-letter-reveals

  3. Nairb1 The National Audit Office found informal interventions such as local support were more successful than formal intervention such as academy conversion in turning round schools.  But the Government insists academy conversion is the best method.  And when it fails, as it has done with E-Act and AET, the DfE shuffles academies between chains at taxpayers’ expense.  It cost £1.5m to shift 8 E-Act academies.  If that precedent is followed, then the transfer of 8 AET academies would cost as much.
    The DfE is stalling on releasing how much the 100 academies which changed hands before 31 August 2015 have cost.

  4. wasateacher

    What a mess.  There are over 800 on latest list of academy sponsors – this seems to increase almost daily.  Then we have the big trusts like E-Act and AET expanding too quickly, failing and having schools taken from them and handed over like second hand clothing to inexperienced academy trusts.  Meanwhile, money is going out of the classroom to support this.

  5. TW

    He told TES that he wanted a better process for inspections of academy chains and that he would not resign.

    Or, academies should be immune from the sort of criticism to which community schools are subject.  Message to government – system not rigged enough to make academies look good.
    Mr Comfort suggested that parents were part of the reason for attendance that was “still not good enough”.
    “There are particular schools in particular areas of the country where attendance becomes a challenge and where we have parents whose aspirations for their children aren’t what they should be,” he said. “We need parental support and we need to work with communities as well.”

    Such a shame academies are not part of the community.  But then academies were supposed to show community schools how easy it is to get good exam results and attendance.  Perhaps if more were done to rig the system in favour of academies by excluding these unsupportive parents then exam results could all come from ideal families.

    “I’d question the tone of the [Ofsted] letter because if you drop below the headlines you’ll see a number of good things being said,” he said. “We had a discussion [with Ofsted] about those not judged as good, and the journey those schools are taking.

    So that’s alright then.  That’s the way to the future.  Just have the government tell Ofsted to have a chat with academies and publish whatever the academies want said.

  6. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Another article highlighting the drivel politicians have been feeding the public about education for around 20 years

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