Ofsted has been given approval to take a closer look at the work of groups running chains of academies.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan said the inspection body should be able to publish information about the performance of academy chains, although there will be no formal extension of Ofsted's powers.
However, the inspectorate will not be permitted to give an overall judgement about whether or not a trust is effective, with Ms Morgan and head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw agreeing that this would be inappropriate.
Last year, Mr Wilshaw said his organisation should be given explicit powers to inspect the head offices of academy chains, in the same way in which it is able to look at local council children's services.
Ms Morgan and her predecessor, Michael Gove, had argued that it was not necessary for the inspectorate to be given additional rights to examine the overall management of these groups.
The education secretary has outlined the new arrangements in a letter, backing continued 'batch' inspections of academies that are all run by the same trust.
She also stated that she would expect Ofsted to meet with staff from multi-academy trusts (MATs) shortly after these inspections have taken place.
Ms Morgan said: "They should share and discuss the evidence already gathered and collect and consider further evidence to demonstrate the impact of the MAT's work with its academies.
"While the focus must remain on the academies that have been inspected, I agree the dialogue should include consideration of achievement and other relevant data for all of the MAT's academies."
The letter goes on to say that Ofsted should consider the arrangements MATs have in place for effective oversight, challenge and support of individual academies. A range of evidence would then be available to conduct a balanced appraisal of the work of the chain with the academies inspected.
Any findings published by Ofsted must make it clear which schools have been inspected and which have not, Ms Morgan said.
Posted by Harriet McGowan