No formal moves yet but in practice chains are being scrutinised
When will Ofsted formally inspect Academy chains? After all, Sir Michael Wilshaw seems to be in favour of chain inspections. The truth is that Ofsted is already pretty much on the case. Witness Ofsteds treatment of the E-ACT chain .It was subjected to what was termed a’ focused inspection’, although it was, in effect, a chain inspection, in all but name . Ofsted inspects academy chains currently through what it calls ‘batched inspections of schools within chains’. Ofsted, of course, has previously inspected a group of academies within the AET chain. The AET approach in the eyes of ministers is seen as effective , so there are no plans to widen Ofsted’s role, for example, in inspecting chains head offices. But for how much longer? Particularly as the government itself is expressing concerns over some of the chains’ impact on outcomes,( a minority it has to be said), and the apparent unwillingness of some to innovate , while concurrently preventing some chains from expanding (around 14 at the last count).
Ministers though look unlikely to budge on this, and believe that Ofsted is doing more than enough at the moment , combined with the DFEs own efforts ,to hold chains properly to account without burdening them with more red tape.