An academy chain slammed by Ofsted has been asked to hand back control of Richmond Park Academy (RPA) by the council’s cabinet member for schools.

In an open report Her Majesty’s Inspector, Andrew Cook, stated the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), which has operated for almost eight years and has 67 academies in its network, was failing too many pupils.

Councillor Paul Hodgins has demanded RPA be put back into local control and said: “The Council will not accept anything less.”

Ofsted inspected seven schools run by the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) in November 2015 and spoke with principals of 18 other academies run by the trust.

According to the report, 47 per cent of its secondary pupils attend academies that have a “less than good” rating, and 40 per cent of primary pupils attend schools that do not provide a good standard of education.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Richmond Park Academy is the only AET school in the borough

The report said: “The performance of AET’s secondary academies is mediocre and has not improved since the previous focused inspections in June 2014.

“Only 41 per cent of AET secondary academies are good or better.”

The report highlights low attendance across AET’s academies, a failure to tackle weak leadership and how changes to the trust’s working practices had not sufficiently improved its performance.

Richmond Park Academy (RPA) has not been inspected by Ofsted since October 2012, when it was given a “good” rating, but Cllr Hodgins has called for the school to be released back to local control.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Councillor Paul Hodgins criticised AET chief executive Ian Comfort, who earns a reported £225,000 salary

He said: “These depressing reports, along with the significant financial hole that AET has allowed RPA to get into, reflect our own experience with AET and just reinforce our firm view that RPA must come out from under them.”

But while he has called for RPA to be returned to council control, he did say he was 'broadly' in favour of academies.

He said: "Academies can work perfectly well and I am in favour of them in general.

"However I think this case is an exception and it has failed - I would like to see this academy returned to our control."

Cllr Hodgins welcomed the appointment of the school’s new head teacher, Paul Mundy-Castle, who is due to take the helm in September, but said this step was not taken on AET’s initiative.

He said: “We should not have to apply this much pressure for the right decisions to be taken.

“I again call on AET’s chief executive Ian Comfort to put our students first, and stop simply trying to preserve AET and his own position.

“It is time to put RPA back into local control. This Council will not accept anything less.”

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

New head teacher Paul Mundy-Castle will take the helm in September

A spokesman from AET said the trust was totally committed to providing its full support to RPA, and was appealing to increasing numbers of pupils making the transfer from local primaries.

He said: "We are convinced that Richmond Park has an exciting future as part of our academy network, and are very much looking forward to working with the new Principal and his staff from next term."

A spokeswoman from RPA said: “Richmond Park Academy wants the best for all of our students, now and in the future, and that is our entire focus as we look forward to welcoming our new Principal, Paul Mundy-Castle, in September.”