Bucking the trend! Our city academy trust’s leading the way, says Chichester University professor

Uni Trust

A positive Ofsted report demonstrates how Chichester is leading the way in multi-academy trusts across the country.

That’s according to Professor Jane Longmore, Chichester University vice-chancellor and chair of the academy Trust board, after it was singled out by Ofsted for its high-quality partnership working which has led to “a rapid improvement” of its schools.

Lead inspector Theresa Phillips said she was “overcome by positivity”, bucking a trend for criticism of university-led trusts.

Officials commended the high quality of education at its academies, supported by “valuable expertise” drawn from a long tradition of teacher-training at the university and its Institute of Education.

The review, which took place in July, included inspections of four Trust academies, discussions with the trustees, headteachers, and governors, and stakeholders, and an examination of its policies and practices.

The university’s Academy Trust includes 12 schools in the south coast region who work together to ensure faster rates of pupils’ progress across the group.

CEO Sue Samson, who was recognised as a “determined and highly effective leader”, said she was delighted to have received such a positive Ofsted report.

Uni Trust2

She added: “We have a highly expert team, including an amazing group of school leaders, who are dedicated to providing an exciting education and improving the life chances of children by working together.”

The Ofsted report, published this week, also praised the Trust’s business model and its investment in high-quality leaders – including its head teachers – all of whom were judged as good or outstanding in their own inspections.

Inspectors also commented on how the Trust builds on the University’s heritage of teacher-training leading to “high expectations, robust challenges and strong levels of accountability”.

Professor Longmore said: “The university has a long and distinguished heritage of teacher-training going back more than 160 years.

“Education has the power to transform society: central to our vision as an academy sponsor is our belief that supportive learning communities of staff, parents and pupils are essential to success and attainment.”

The watchdog report recognised that trustees, officers and school leaders share a strongly-held view that each academy is unique and should develop its own identity to meet the needs of the community it serves.

Inspectors also found that head teachers are united in their belief in the benefits of university sponsorship and how it promotes high aspirations for both staff and pupils.

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Carl Eldridge
Carl Eldridge is a hugely experienced journalist who has worked on local and national newspapers, magazines and written for websites over the past 30 years. He lives in Bognor Regis with his wife and son. And he is a life-long Arsenal fan.