Millionaire’s academy schools “cheating”

“ne of the country’s top-performing chains of academy schools has been accused of “systemic cheating” during Ofsted inspections at a number of its primaries, a HuffPost UK investigation can reveal.

Concerned teachers and a governor have made serious allegations that the renowned Harris Federation, which runs 47 schools in and around London, is “gaming the system” during Ofsted inspections at more than one of its schools.

The academy trust, one of the largest in England, was set up by Conservative peer and ex-Carpetright mogul Lord Philip Harris, and has often been praised by government ministers as a shining example of the academy schools model.

But insiders at some Harris primary schools have told HuffPost UK the unrelenting drive for success from the academy trust has led to an endemic culture of “cheating and rule bending” during Ofsted.

Those concerned say the Harris Federation needs good or outstanding Ofsted ratings at all its schools in order to justify the bumper salaries of top staff. Its CEO Dan Moynihan was paid at least £420,000 in 2015-16.

One former Harris teacher, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told HuffPost UK: “Staff are parachuted in to protect the Ofsted grade.

“This is all about the veneer of excellence without substance to hold up the PR about all Harris schools being good or outstanding at Ofsted.”

A number of sources close to Harris schools have made specific allegations about highly experienced executive teachers from a central team being brought into schools on the eve of Ofsted inspections, allegedly in order to boost performance.

Critics say this type of support is not available to local authority schools and the issue is a critical one, as a good or outstanding Ofsted rating is a key factor when parents select schools for their children. …”