Education & Family

Ofsted has power to inspect academy chains, say Morgan

Nicky Morgan
Image caption Ms Morgan appeared before the education select committee on Wednesday

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has publicly contradicted the head of Ofsted over whether the watchdog has the right to inspect academy chains.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has often called for his organisation to be given additional powers to inspect and grade the management of academy chains.

But Ms Morgan said inspectors already had the power to inspect these bodies.

More than half of secondary schools in England are now academies, operating outside local authority control.

Appearing before the Education Select Committee on Wednesday, Ms Morgan said she disagreed with the chief inspector over the powers he had to inspect.

She said she was satisfied that inspectors could inspect the constituent parts of academy chains.

"Well I think he [Sir Michael Wilshaw] does have the power to look at support and governance arrangements of the chain, of the sponsor of a chain," she told MPs.

Image caption Sir Michael has repeatedly called for powers to inspect and grade academy chains

Pushed on the point that Sir Michael said he did not have those powers, Ms Morgan said that he did and could pass judgement.

"I am satisfied they [Ofsted] can inspect constituent parts, they can particularly inspect school governance and support that chains are offering to schools within the chain. They can also do batch inspections."

She added: "I think it's very, very simple, you see from the reports Ofsted have already produced on some of the academy sponsors - they are able, they have the powers to inspect the support that that sponsor is giving to the schools within its chain.

"They have the powers. I'm not in the business of producing more legislation to do something that the inspectorate can already do."

'I respect her decision'

In a statement in response to Ms Morgan's comments, he said: "I am very clear that I have the powers to inspect the constituent academies of a multi-academy trust (MAT).

"I do not have the powers to inspect and report on the overall effectiveness of the MAT.

"The secretary of state for education has confirmed that she does not intend to introduce legislation to enable this type of inspection and I respect her decision."

In a report published in November last year, the Education Select Committee said Ofsted should be given powers to inspect organisations that run chains of academies.

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