MATS to face increased scrutiny – Ofsted chief inspector

Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman revealed in her recent speech at the Education Policy Institute that multi-academy trusts (MATs) will face increased scrutiny during future inspections, the Education Executive reports.

At present, Ofsted can conduct inspections of schools and academies but not MATs. Instead, the body assesses the effectiveness of these institutions by evaluating numerous schools within the same trust and reports back informally.

Yet, Spielman said that she wants to make sure “the role of the MAT is properly considered” when inspections take place.

“MATs themselves come in many shapes, sizes and range of geographical spread. There is quite a spectrum, from back-office models all the way through to fully-integrated models.”

Spielman explained how Ofsted does not have a preferred model, though it must now scrutinise the various models and how each one contributes to the delivery of high standards in education.

“I think it is now generally understood that for MATs, it is the trust that is the legal entity. The trust has the ultimate responsibility for all the decisions that lead to its pupils receiving a high quality of education.

“Increasingly, trusts tell us that they want to have a joined-up conversation with us about the many cross-MAT decisions they make, rather than repeating essentially the same conversation with a different lead inspector on every inspection of a school in [a MAT]. We have been doing our best on this within the limitations of our remit. But we do know this falls short of the ideal.”

Spielman added that she was delighted to learn that the Secretary of State intended to look at the accountability arrangements for MATs, which he made clear during his speech last month to the National Governance Association.

“We are revising our existing methodology and approach to the inspection of MATs, so as to make sure, within the limits of the powers we do have, that we are getting as much insight as we can in the most efficient way.”

Ofsted will visit a number of MATs this summer in order to test aspects of the new approach. Spielman believes it will help to enhance inspection experiences for MAT leaders – do you think it will?



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