Trust sponsoring West Norfolk schools praised in inspection report

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Government inspectors have praised what they called the “journey of systematic improvement” at an educational trust which sponsors several West Norfolk schools.

An Ofsted report said the quality of education in many of the schools run by DEMAT – the Diocese of Ely Multi-Academy Trust – was improving as a result.

It looks after 27 schools across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, including 11 in West Norfolk.

One of them, the Runcton Holme Primary, was deemed inadequate by the inspection body last week.

But the report into the trust said: “The Diocese of Ely has a wholehearted commitment to improving the life chances of pupils across schools within the trust, however small the school or whatever its starting point.” DEMAT is a large and growing multi-academy trust, which was established in 2013.

In a focused review of the trust, inspectors praised chief executive Andrew Read for his “candid reflection, decisive leadership and clarity of purpose” which they said had done much to improve effectiveness of provision.

They added: “He models very well the behaviours he expects of others. He quickly gained a precise understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in DEMAT and has established the correct priorities for improvement.

“Trust leaders, through strong leadership, have corrected the previous imbalance between local autonomy and centrally-led accountability.

“They now have a precise understanding of the unique context of each school because they have established effective communications, regular visits and systematic checks on school performance.

“Over the past 18 months there has been a significant improvement in the quality and effectiveness of leadership, and operational systems across the trust.”

Inspectors found under-performance in leadership and in teaching was challenged effectively – and in 10 of the 13 schools inspected since they joined DEMAT,leadership and management were rated good.

They said DEMAT’s “unwavering commitment” to improving education was evident in each tier of the trust’s leadership.

The report also said the trust’s oversight of safeguarding was effective in its schools.

The trust needs to ensure outcomes in its schools continue to improve, develop its approach to improving school attendance, ensure good practice in local governance was replicated consistently, and strengthen school-to-school support.

Mr Read said: “The encouraging findings of the inspection reflect the hard work of the staff and pupils within the trust’s schools.

We also recognise the helpful areas for further improvement identified by OfSTED, many of which mirror the national challenges we face within the education system for which we all share responsibility.”

Other trust schools in West Norfolk include those in Hilgay, Marshland St James, Methwold, Northwold, Shouldham, Stoke Ferry, Ten Mile Bank, Tilney All Saints, Walpole St Peter, Weeting and Wormegay.