Suffolk meeting with national schools commissioner to address multi-academy trust performance

Suffolk County Council's Gordon Jones will meet with the national schools commissioner

Suffolk County Council's Gordon Jones will meet with the national schools commissioner - Credit: Archant

A meeting with top level education bosses over concerns in performance at some Suffolk multi-academy trusts has been set for next week, it has emerged.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education Gordon Jones confirmed on Thursday that he will meet with Sir David Carter – national schools commissioner – on Monday.

It is understood that the talk will specifically be about the issues at some multi-academy trusts and what can be done to help ensure children at those establishments are not left behind.

Mr Jones said: “With regard to academies, I am going to see Sir David Carter, the national schools commissioner regarding concerns we have about some.

“It’s really how they are addressing them [the problems] and working to see if we can work closer with them to ensure those children are in academies where appropriate action is taken.

“At the end of the day they are Suffolk children and we have a responsibility for Suffolk children whether they are local authority schools or academies.”

The scope of the conversation has not been made clear, but two trusts which are set to be discussed are Ormiston Trust and Felixstowe Academy, which is run by the Academies Enterprise Trust, among other multi-academy trusts.

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Jack Abbot, Labour’s spokesman for education at the county council said it was important that academies had the same level of scrutiny as local authority schools in a bid to make sure performance was not a concern.

“It is clear that there has not been enough scrutiny and accountability when it comes to under-performing academy trusts and we have to challenge the assumption that simply moving a school from the local authority to a MAT will have a positive impact on attainment,” he said.

“We know that, because of real-term funding cuts, many schools in Suffolk, including academies, are operating with large budget deficits, putting pressures on wages, staffing levels and provision.

“However, we need to be certain that all trusts are directing enough funding towards the front line by investing properly in teachers and pupils and, if trusts are not meeting these expectations, then serious questions must be asked.”

In Suffolk, 87% of schools have ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ Ofsteds.

A spokeswoman from Ormiston Academies Trust said: “We are proud to have been delivering high-quality education to students across East Anglia for many years, including in our four academies in Suffolk which are doing well.

“Ormiston Sudbury Academy was again confirmed as a ‘good’ school in April following an Ofsted inspection, while Ormiston Endeavour Academy is also rated ‘good’.

“Ormiston Denes Academy celebrated record GCSE results last year, achieving one of the highest rates of improvement in English and mathematics in the country.

“Earlier this year Ofsted rated leadership and management at Stoke High School as good, and praised the academy for raising standards.”

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