Twelve academies in Northamptonshire have ‘unacceptably low’ standards

12 academies in Northamptonshire have been sent 'warning' letters by the Department for Education due to poor performance
12 academies in Northamptonshire have been sent 'warning' letters by the Department for Education due to poor performance
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A total of 12 academies in Northamptonshire have ‘unacceptably low’ standards of performance and have been sent ‘pre-warning’ letters by the Department for Education.

During the past six months, concerns have been expressed about the poor academic levels in academies run by five different organisations in the county.

The academy sponsors have all been sent ‘pre-warning’ letters by the regional schools commissioner stating the school could be closed and taken over by a new sponsor if standards do not go up.

The academies will all be closely monitored during the next year to see if they improve. If they fail, the Department of Education could end the funding agreement with the academy sponsor.

A letter, in a similar format sent to all academies by the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC), sent to the Greenwood Academies trust, which runs Weston Favell Academy in Northampton in February, states there are “clearly significant challenges that need to be addressed”.

The letter reads: “Following the Department of Education’s diagnostic visit of 6 November 2015, and since the Ofsted monitoring visit of March 2015, standards of performance at the school appear to have regressed which leads me to consider that they are unlikely to improve significantly.

“The November 6 visit found a number of issues that we would like to see addressed to ensure sustainable improvement within the academy.”

The David Ross Education Trust, which runs Malcolm Arnold Academy in Northampton, was sent a similar letter in January.

Other academies in Northampton that have received warning letters in the past few months include Thorplands and Blackthorn, both sponsored by the Education Fellowship Trust.

The Education Fellowship has also received warning letters in regards to five other schools in the county; Olympic Primary School, Rushden Community College, Ruskin Junior School, Wrenn School and Warwick Primary Academy.

The other academies to receive warning letters include Kingswood Secondary Academy, sponsored by Greenwood Academies Trust, Weavers Academy, sponsored by Creative Education Academies Trust and the Danetre and Southbrook Learning Village in Daventry, sponsored by E-ACT.

A spokesman for The Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust (GDFT) said it had responded to the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) for North West London and South Central, outlining the actions that will be taken to remedy the matters raised in the Pre-Termination Warning Notices in respect of two of its 30 academies.

Wayne Norrie, Chief Executive, said, whilst the Trust accepts that standards of performance at the Kingswood Secondary Academy in Corby and the Weston Favell Academy in Northampton are low, it has the capacity and expertise to turn things around and sustain the GDFT’s position as one of the leading Multi-Academy Trusts in the UK.

He said: “I am very proud to be the new Chief Executive of the Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust, building on the outstanding legacy of Sir Barry Day and leading us into a very exciting but challenging future.

We have a very clear understanding of the quality of teaching, pupils’ attainment and progress in our academies and the new secondary action plan, the expertise of the Secondary Task Force and the move to a regional accountability model, provide a strong basis for both immediate and sustainable improvement.

“We have encouraging predictions for 2016 and I am confident that we will improve the outcomes further for our secondary pupils in 2017.”

Lizzie Rowe, Chief Operating Officer, of The Education Fellowship said the schools under its care had improve din the past six months.

Ms Rowe said: “The Education Fellowship has four academies within the top ten of the IDACI (the measure is the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index) in Northamptonshire and whilst deprivation is never used as an excuse within the Fellowship it does mean that pupils need an enormous amount of support in order to get them ready to learn. These four schools in the past have been neglected by the Local Authority for 30 or more years.

“The Fellowship are now affecting long term sustainable change through developing leaders, inspiring teachers and pupils and with the implementation of a strategy from the Chief Operating Officer which is uncompromising in its demand for excellence to succeed in delivering in every area.

“The notice letters which were imposed on several of our academies in March were resulting from inspection last Autumn, by any standard in a child’s life was a long time ago.”