Head of trust that runs three Northampton schools criticises ‘negative balance’ of Ofsted report

The Collaborative Academies Trust sponsors three schools in Northampton
The Collaborative Academies Trust sponsors three schools in Northampton
  • Collaborative Academies Trust has been inspected by Ofsted
  • Trust chief executive says report lacks ‘balance
  • Kevin Crossley says three Northampton schools are improving

The chief executive of an academy trust that sponsors three schools in Northampton says a recent Ofsted inspection does not fully reflect all the recent good work by pupils and staff.

The Government’s education watchdog has published an inspection report of the Collaborative Academies Trust, which runs Kingsthorpe College, Spring Lane and Lumbertubs Primary Schools.

The report, taken from a series of visits to the trust’s schools in March, states “too many academies have not improved since joining the trust”.

It states: “The consequence of academies not improving quickly enough is that the trust’s impact on pupils’ achievement is inconsistent and limited. “In the six academies that have been part of the trust for at least one full academic year, achievement is too variable. There is no evidence that across the trust the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers is closing or that the needs of the more able pupils are being met.

“The youngest pupils do not always get off to a good enough start. In the Northamptonshire cluster, the proportion of children reaching the level typical for their age at the end of Reception was very low in 2014.”

But Kevin Crossley, chief executive of the trust, said the report did not highlight any areas for development or recommendations that he was not already aware of and in the process of addressing.

Mr Crossley said the report was written before the recent SATS results that showed Lumbertubs and Spring Lane above government floor targets for the first time

Kingsthorpe College also won the School of the Year award at the Education Awards on Wednesday night and was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted after a recent inspection.

He said: “Overall, when we set up our multi-academy trust in 2012 we deliberately took on troubled schools working in challenging circumstances. “Therefore we knew that improvements would take time to realise. The success of our schools will come through challenge, encouragement and partnership, with the support of our school leaders, teachers, children, governors, parents and local communities. That all takes longer than a few terms to implement, but is more sustainable over time.”

Mr Crossley said the methodology for inspecting multi-academy trusts is in its “infancy” and said he would like to see further refinement if Ofsted is to provide a “balanced view” of the many trusts working in challenging circumstances.

He said: “We feel it is important to indicate areas of strength, areas of development and recommendations, rather than to use a narrative, followed by recommendations, as contained in the letter from Ofsted.

“We believe this would provide a more balanced overview of the wide ranges of contexts in which any trust operates. In letters of this nature it is often difficult to distinguish between the good work that is taking place to improve schools and areas identified for improvement.”