Ofsted praise for Wakefield academy trust

Alan Yellup. The chief executive of Wakefield City Academies Trust.
Alan Yellup. The chief executive of Wakefield City Academies Trust.
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An academy chain has been praised by Ofsted for its work turning around the fortunes of schools previously judged to be failing.

Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) had a focused inspection of its work - including inspection visits to five of its academies.

In each case Ofsted found the schools which had been inadequate had improved by at least one inspection grade. In one case, West End Academy in Pontefract, the school had gone from being rated as inadequate to good.

Ofsted said: “Two years into its development WCAT is making a positive difference to the quality of provision and outcomes for pupils within its academies.”

In a letter to the trust it added: “The trust has a good knowledge and understanding of individual academies’ strengths and weaknesses. Trust leaders are tenacious in gathering data about pupils’ achievements, progress and attendance.”

WCAT now sponsors schools in Wakefield, Doncaster, Sheffield and the East Riding. It took on Goole High last year after it went into special measures and it is taking on Brookfield Primary in Swinton after its sponsor withdrew at short notice. WCAT’s chief executive Alan Yellup said: “This report is a huge vote of confidence in what we are doing. We knew we were on the right track as we monitor closely the progress of each of our academies.

“Nevertheless, the Ofsted inspection and its conclusions are very welcome. It is a credit to everybody involved in helping turn our academies around. Tremendous strides have been made.

“Schools which had previously been failing their communities are now being held up as examples of good and outstanding practice. Children in those communities are being given better life chances as a result.

“The report ends this academic year on a high for all involved at the Trust. But we are not complacent and accept the points raised by Inspectors that will make further improvements.”

Ofsted are not allowed to give overall inspection grades for academy chains but are able to produce focused inspections looking at their work by visiting several schools run by the same trust.

This focused inspection of WCAT academies saw Ofsted carry out inspections of five schools, speak on the phone to the leaders of five others schools and visit the trust’s head office to speak with senior figures.

Ofsted’s summary said WCAT had “articulated its vision across its family of academies very successfully.”

“Trust and academy leaders speak enthusiastically about a shared sense of purpose and culture of improvement,” the report says.

WCAT grew out of Wakefield City High School, judged outstanding at its last three Ofsted inspections. It became an academy in January 2011 and was invited to become an approved sponsor by the Department for Education. It now has 13 sponsored academies.