Damning Ofsted reports into academy chain schools heap pressure on Michael Gove

Inspectors observed poor quality teaching, weak monitoring of performance data and a lack of urgency in closing the gap between disadvantaged pupils and others

Education Editor

An “overwhelming proportion” of pupils attending one of the country’s biggest academy chains fail to receive a good education, according to a damning inspection report.

There is an “urgent need” for E-ACT, which has 34 schools on its books, to improve the quality of its teaching, according to the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).

Ofsted is forbidden by law from inspecting academy chains. However, because of concerns over standards at E-ACT schools, it mounted 16 separate inspections of individual schools run by the sponsor. The watchdog’s critical verdict will heap more pressure on the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, to bow to demands to allow the watchdog to inspect chains.

Of the 16 schools inspected, five failed outright, including Hartsbrook E-ACT free school in the West Midlands. A further six “required improvement” and were failing to provide a “good” education for children, four were rated “good” and one was judged “outstanding”.

Of the 18 other schools run by the chain, which had already been inspected, 11 were judged to be less than good in the standards they reached.

In a letter spelling out the weaknesses inspectors observed, Ofsted said that there was:

* Poor quality teaching, with the work set in lessons inadequately matched to pupils’ abilities;

* Weak monitoring and poor use of performance data by senior leaders who did not know where teaching needed to improve;

* A lack of urgency in closing the gap between disadvantaged pupils and others.

Lorna Fitzjohn, Ofsted’s regional director for the West Midlands, said: “The evidence collected during these inspections indicates that intervention and support provided by E-ACT was ineffective action to improve schools.”

E-ACT had the lowest proportion of good or outstanding schools of the 10 biggest academy chains, she added.

Ms Fitzjohn said E-ACT had deducted a proportion of the pupil premium – given to schools to improve the performance of disadvantaged pupils – before it had reached the schools.

“It is unclear how these deducted funds are being used to improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils,” she said. Mike Cladingbowl, national director of schools at Ofsted, said: “The outcomes of these inspections indicate that E-ACT has not been effective in improving its academies.”

The academy chain has a history of controversy. Earlier this year, it was revealed that, after talks with the Department for Education, it would be handing 10 of its schools back for other sponsors to run.  It was also on a list of 14 academy chains – revealed last week – that had been told they would not be given permission to run any more schools because of concerns over standards.

Prior to that, it was the subject of a critical report by the Government’s Education Funding Agency into “extravagant” overspending on expenses.

The agency report criticised Sir Bruce Liddington, the chain’s former director general – and before that a senior civil servant at the DfE responsible for promoting academies – who quit after E-ACT was given notice to improve its financial controls.

A spokeswoman for E-ACT said: “No one should be in any doubt about E-ACT’s commitment to the task of improvement. Over the past two terms we have begun root and branch reforms under new leadership with some key successes.”

The Schools minister, Lord Nash, warned that Mr Gove would not hesitate to take “further robust action” if E-ACT schools did not improve.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
life
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballI have never seen the point of lambasting the fourth official, writes Paul Scholes
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher

£130 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher Jan 2015 - July...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Our exclusive client in St Albans Hertfords...

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Primary Teachers

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teachers needed in Hertfordshir...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee