What a week this has been for the Education sector! Firstly George Osborne identifies Education as a key area of priority in his 2016 Budget, announcing  all schools will have to become academies by 2022; then today (17 March) Nicky Morgan reveals her white paper for Education (the first since 2010) to driveEducational Excellence Everywhere ”.

Amongst a range of policy ideas and initiatives, the government states the DfE are to launch new accountability measures for Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs); most notably, publishing new MAT performance league tables.  This will be in addition to the continued publication of inspection and performance data at individual school level.

The move to put all state schools under Academy status – many of which having lost Local Authority support, suggests that most may look to the economies of scale provided by MATs. Indeed, this appears to be actively encouraged in the White Paper:

“This means that most schools will form or join MATs – allowing proven educational models to be scaled and the system’s best leaders to run more than one school.”

It is therefore of no surprise that the performance of these chains is now to be closely monitored.

In March 2015 the DFE published their proposed measures of MAT performance in its Statistical Working Paper “Measuring the performance of schools within academy chains and local authorities”. The paper proposed 2 separate measures based on the then Value Added Measure.

  • Average Value Added (both GCSE and equivalents and GCSE only) of schools across the Academy Chain weighted according to length of time with the academy chain and the number of pupils in each school.
  • Secondly the Improvement in GCSE and equivalents and GCSE only Average Value Added over time.

It is likely that the new accountability measures will focus on Progress 8 and will be weighted in a similar way. However, how trends over time can be compared accurately and meaningfully when moving from different measures of progress is not clear.

Ofsted has also begun to focus far more on MATS. At the time of writing they have published the outcomes of 8 focused inspections of Academy Chains over the past year. In the HMCI advice note on multi academy Inspections to Nicky Morgan Sir Michael Wilshaw cited the following concerns: 

  • poor progress and attainment, particularly at Key Stage 4
  • leaders not doing enough to improve attendance or behaviour
  • inflated views of the quality of teaching and insufficient scrutiny of the impact of teaching on pupils’ progress
  • a lack of strategic oversight by the trust of all academies
  • a lack of urgency to tackle weak leadership at senior and middle levels
  • insufficient challenge from governors and trustees who accepted information from senior leaders without robust interrogation of its accuracy
  • confusion over governance structures, reflected in the lack of clarity around the roles and responsibilities of the central trust and the local governing boards of constituent academies. This is not helped by some trusts failing to meet the requirement to publish a scheme of delegation

 It appears from this that there are many challenges faced by MATs. Many include schools across all key stages with different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. Some chains are spread over wide geographical areas giving them an extra challenge in supporting, monitoring and improving student outcomes.

It seems clear that If MATs are to be successful the need to find common systems of assessment and monitoring of the performance of all schools across the academy chain is essential. Without this the ability of trust leaders to make informed decisions, drive school improvement and ultimately enhance the outcomes of every student within their care is severely hampered.

Now more than ever before, MATs will need to get their data monitoring, reporting and analytics up to the mark in order to drive their trusts ahead effectively. Questa delivers Trust level reporting. Click below to request your personalised demo site login details.

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