6 March

The Active Learning Trust was deemed as having effectively established a strong and collective ethos, vision and values across all its schools during one of the first multi-academy trust reviews in the country using Ofsted’s new ‘summary evaluation’.

The Active Learning Trust runs 21 schools across Cambridgeshire and Suffolk and was inspected using Ofsted’s new ‘summary evaluation’. This method not only inspects a sample of the Trust’s schools but also considers evidence from relevant documentation, on-site visits to the Trust and discussions with trustees, senior leadership, headteachers and governors.

The report praised the Trust, stating: “You and the directors know each of the schools within the trust exceptionally well. You reflect honestly and have evaluated accurately the strengths and weaknesses in individual performance and context.”

The inspectors added: “The trust’s aims and ethos are clear. They are based on a determination to provide a high-quality education for all.”

“Consequently, schools that are a part of ALT have a shared understanding and acceptance of this strong ethos. School leaders at all levels are universally proud to be part of ALT and have confidence in the expertise of the directors” the inspectors continued.  

Clive Bush, acting Chief Executive of the Active Learning Trust, said: “We are thrilled to have received such a positive and complimentary evaluation from Ofsted. To see the hard work of all our staff across our schools being recognised is fantastic. We will continue to work hard and strive towards excellence in all our schools to give our students the best start in life.”

The inspector went on to commend the Trust’s approach towards its schools, stating: “As a trust, you encourage and celebrate the individual characteristics of each school. You provide them with a good balance of autonomy and central oversight and accountability.” One leader was quoted saying: “We are worked with, rather than done to”.

The inspector also applauded the Trust’s three school hubs, stating: “This regional tier of leadership in central to the school improvement work of the trust.”

The inspectors specifically praised the North Suffolk hub for its collaborative approach and commended the Trust for recognising this and taking successful practices from the hub to the other hubs within the Trust. 

Additionally, the Trust was praised for the quality of its training. The inspector stated: “One reason for the strength in leadership and management stems from your commitment to growing and developing your own leaders… Continued professional development is well established, highly valued and is often a reason provided by staff for applying and staying with ALT.” The inspector also felt that pupils are safeguarded effectively.

Inspectors found that The Active Learning Trust has clear and appropriate plans for continuing to improve its quality of education and pupils’ achievement. Of the six schools inspected, two remained as good, two remained as requires improvement, one improved from requires improvement to good and the other was judged to be making effective progress towards the removal of serious weaknesses.

It was noted that the Trust often takes on underperforming schools and the inspector recognised that while some schools still require improvement, all recent inspections judged the quality of leadership and management as strong. The inspector added: “You have rigorous monitoring processes in place and ensure that the three schools identified as underperforming over time are suitable challenged and well supported.”

In areas where the reported felt improvements could be made, the inspector recognised and praised the Trust for already having identified these issues and putting plans in place to overcome them. For example, the Trust has identified and is working towards improving provisions and accountability towards middle leaders. Local governance was also identified as an area where improvements could be made as well as absenteeism which is beginning to see improvements due to the support of the Trust. 

Clive Bush continued: “To be one of the first trusts to undertake the new review has been a great experience and the feedback has been really helpful. I am pleased to see such positive results and to find that the suggested areas of improvement are already things that we have picked up and have measures in place to improve. It shows that are systems are working and benefiting all our schools.”

The Trust is also developing a trust-wide approach to the curriculum which will help to close the gap between disadvantaged students as well as help the most able to excel further. The collaborative approach and inclusion of senior school leaders in this process was commended and early signs are already demonstrating that pupils are having an improved quality of education as a result.

Overall the report found that schools have improved since joining The Active Learning Trust.


To find the full Ofsted summary evaluation : Click here