Ofsted chief: Give me power to inspect academy chains

CREDIT: This story was first seen in iNews

Inspectors must be handed more powers to scrutinise chains of academy schools, the head of Ofsted told MPs, iNews reports.

Amanda Spielman demanded the schools watchdog be allowed to inspect multi-academy trusts in order to gain a more complete picture of the standards of education being offered.

The Chief Inspector also called for the inspectorate to be allowed to look into alternative provision, which cater for children not in mainstream education, branding them as a “great concern”.

Speaking to the Education Select Committee, Ms Spielman called for Ofsted to be given greater powers to examine academy chains in their entirety to understand how they are being managed.

“The view we can get just by looking at subsets of the schools in a MAT is very significantly more limited than the view we would get by looking at the whole of a MAT,” she said.

“Increasingly, they are quite highly integrated operations. It’s a bit artificial – you cannot say that just looking at a school and a local governing body gives you the full view of how that’s being run, how it’s being controlled, how important decisions are being made. “I want to be able to look properly at those decisions.”

Ms Spielman’s predecessor Sir Michael Wilshaw repeatedly called for sweeping powers to enable Ofsted to inspect multi-academy trusts but was met by resistance from the government.

Very uncomfortable Ms Spielman also raised her concerns that the watchdog is only able to inspect part of the alternative provision landscape, which she said made her “very uncomfortable”.

“We can inspect pupil referral units and alternative provision that constitutes a registered school but a very large proportion of alternative provision is in unregistered schools, typically not offering a full-time provision and so they don’t satisfy the registration requirements.

“It is a matter of great concern to us that we cannot see the quality there. We think it is very difficult for anybody to what know the quality is. These are children who don’t consistently have parents doing a good job of making sure their children are getting a good experience.”

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Any such change would require new legislation, she added.

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