Wilshaw: serious weaknesses in academy chains.

‘England’s largest academy chains have “serious weaknesses” as bad as the local authorities they were intended to replace, Sir Michael Wilshaw has told the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, in strong criticism of the government’s flagship school improvement programme.

In a memo to Morgan published on Thursday, the Ofsted chief inspector singled out seven of the worst-performing multi-academy trust (MAT) chains, citing weak leadership, poor performance and lack of oversight as among the concerns found by his inspectors.

“Many of the trusts manifested the same weaknesses as the worst performing local authorities and offered the same excuses. Indeed, one chief executive blamed parents for pupils’ poor attendance affecting pupils’ performance,” Wilshaw said in his letter.

“There has been much criticism in the past of local authorities failing to take swift action with struggling schools. Given the impetus of the academies programme to bring about rapid improvement, it is of great concern that we are not seeing this in these seven MATs and that, in some cases, we have even seen decline.”’– Guardian

‘"The average pay of the chief executives in these seven trusts is higher than the prime minister's salary, with one chief executive's salary reaching £225,000.

"This poor use of public money is compounded by some trusts holding very large cash reserves that are not being spent on raising standards.

"For example, at the end of August 2015, these seven trusts had total cash in the bank of £111m.

"Furthermore, some of these trusts are spending money on expensive consultants or advisers to compensate for deficits in leadership. Put together, these seven trusts spent at least £8.5m on education consultancy in 2014-15 alone."

Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said: "Ofsted has identified a number of very serious concerns within these academy chains.

"The lack of oversight, the lack of capacity within the governance structures and failure to deliver improvements are all issues we have been raising for months.

"As the government continues, without evidence, with its agenda to turn all schools into academies and no system of local oversight to spot and challenge underperformance early, these problems will only get worse, impacting on standards." - BBC

‘A Tory spokesman said: "Labour have nothing positive to say about the brilliant schools in this country and are yet to produce a single idea regarding their plan for education.

"They would allow a return to the days of declining standards, poor school discipline and low aspiration that typified the last Labour government's attitude to education. We should never trust them with our children's future ever again." – Daily Mail

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