Trusts an integral part of school inspections

Ofsted has today published a report exploring multi-academy trusts’ responsibilities and how their work is evaluated during inspections

The new research finds that trusts are an important part of school inspection and have some involvement at each stage of the process. However, Ofsted’s legal remit only permits inspections to operate at an individual school level, limiting the extent to which inspectors can report on the work of the trust, and its influence.

Read the ‘How multi-academy trusts are involved in school inspections report’.

The report also finds that:

  • Conversations with trusts are an integral part of a school’s inspection.

  • Inspections cover the influential role that trusts have in the quality of education in their schools, particularly in designing the curriculum.

  • Inspectors recognised the role of many trusts in setting expectations for teaching, and for teaching and managing behaviour.

  • Trusts often set the strategic vision for personal development and use their resources to provide opportunities for pupils.

  • Trust leaders said that they were always involved in strategic school leadership decisions, regardless of their operating model.

  • The fact that Ofsted’s legal powers require inspection to operate at school level can leave the role of the trust in inspection unclear, causing frustration for trust leaders and inspectors.

  • Both trust leaders and inspectors highlighted that inspection at school level does not hold the trust sufficiently accountable or attribute enough credit to the trust’s work.

Ofsted Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, said:

"School trusts are an integral part of the education landscape, with some running dozens of schools. They oversee all aspects of schools’ work and often turn around some very challenging situations.

"The inspectors and trust leaders we spoke to highlighted that inspection only of individual schools does not hold the trust sufficiently accountable, or credit the trust enough for its work."

The report draws evidence from survey responses by 105 His Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) and 11 semi-structured interviews with trust chief executive officers (CEOs) or their representatives.