Last updated September 2013
YOU WILL FIND A FULL LIST OF ACADEMIES IN KENT AND MEDWAY LATER IN THIS ARTICLE.
When I started this page three years ago, it was a simple matter of record. As you read it, you will become aware it is now a very complicated set of data and I am only too happy to correct any errors that may have crept in.
An academy is a school directly funded by the Department for Education and independent of direct control by local government in England. However local government Councils are responsible for the funding formulae used to allocate funds among sections of education within an authority. An Academy may receive additional support from personal or corporate sponsors, either financially or in kind, but must meet the same National Curriculum core subject requirements as other state schools and be subject to inspection by Ofsted.Academies are self-governing and most are constituted as registered charities or operated by other educational charities.Government policy is to encourage all schools to become academies. Those regarded as the stronger can choose how they are governed (see below); those that are perceived to be underperforming or have failed an OFSTED Inspection come under considerable government pressure to become sponsored academies taken over by stronger schools or by one of the many flourishing academy groups. They lease their premises from government and set their own terms and conditions for teachers (Headteachers generally attracting considerably higher salaries than for other schools). This is allowing academies to attract teachers away from other schools whose needs may be greater. You will find the Department for Education's rationale for academies here, along with more details of operation.
Government has also blocked Local Authorities from setting up news schools, and these now have to be academies, Free Schools, or Voluntary Aided Schools (I can't see the logic for these in which a Foundation or Trust contributes to building costs and has some influence on the running of the school). In the case of new academies and Free Schools, government provides the building costs and the sponsors run the school. A major expansion of provision in primary schools is needed in parts of both Kent and Medway, so the academy and Free School sectors will both naturally expand.
In Kent and Medway, academies are generally independent of the local authorities in most respects, although a few are directly sponsored by the Authorities (as far as I can see this just means they appoint a governor who does not necessarily report back, and have no other control). However, they all required to obey the same Admissions Code and are members of the Kent or Medway coordinated admissions scheme for all schools. As the two Local Authorities diversify into an increasingly splintered education provision under the academy programme, there are now many types of local model, as explained below.
Currently nearly three quarters of Kent secondary schools (72/100), and one in six primary schools (77/421) are either academies or have made application, along with 90% (15/17) of Medway's secondaries and 10% (8/79) of the primaries).
An organisation that is highly critical of the academy programme, but whose website is very informative on aspects of it, is the Anti-Academies Alliance.
Old Style Academies
First up are the “old style” secondary academies. The rationale for these was originally based on replacing failing schools in socially deprived urban areas, although this definition became stretched as government sought to increase the number with,, for example, the Knole Academy in Sevenoaks not qualifying on any of the three counts. The earliest academies have either been completely rebuilt or had plans approved to secure a rebuild on a very generous budget of the order of £30 million each, Isle of Sheppey Academy doing best with premises at a cost of £54 million. Those approved later have still been generously treated usually benefiting from a major rebuild, usually of £15 million or more. Most of these academies have main sponsors who have been given control of the institution for a donation of the order of £2 million, waived in the case of charities or churches.
The old style academies are: Bishop of Rochester Academy, Chatham; Brompton Academy, Gillingham; Cornwallis Academy, Maidstone; Dover Christ Church Academy; The Duke of York's Royal Military School, Dover (fully boarding, previously Independent, with a tradition of admitting children of military families – unusually has vacancies and is all ability but has had problems, associated with Dover Federation of the Arts); Folkestone Academy (incorporating Folkestone Primary Academy); Isle of Sheppey Academy; The John Wallis C of E Academy Ashford (incorporating the previous Linden Grove Primary School, Ashford absorbed as part of an all-through school); The Knole Academy, Sevenoaks; Leigh Academy, Dartford; Longfield Academy, Dartford; Marlowe Academy, Ramsgate; Marsh Academy, Romney Marsh; New Line Learning Academy, Maidstone; Orchards Academy, Swanley; St Augustine Academy, Maidstone; Strood Academy; Skinners Kent Academy, Tunbridge Wells; Spires Academy, Canterbury; and Wilmington Academy, Dartford.
Newer academies fall into two groups: 'sponsored' and 'converter'. Both types of academy are able to bid of for capital developments in competition with other schools under two categories: where numbers of children are expanding in the area; and where the school buildings are identified as in need of improvement. In neither case is it yet clear by what criteria these funds are awarded. In my opinion certain academies attracted undue priority for their bids in the recent capital allocations. Now that regulations for expanding schools have been relaxed or abolished, some of these are rapidly growing.
The first type are the Sponsored Academies, who are taken over by more successful schools, academy chains or other organisations. However, not all are underperforming and some have chosen to take up this arrangement. Currently government is putting pressure on Local Authorities and school governing bodies in an attempt (almost wholly successful but often controversial) to force underperforming schools. into academy partnerships and I expect many more local primary schools to appear in this list shortly. There is no public consultation for these conversions and it is not until the decision is announced that one can be sure this is happening. Often there is great secrecy about the process. There is an analysis of the work of two of the largest groups of Academies here.
There is no pattern for these schools, but I have attempted to identify the academy groups and partnerships that operate in Kent and Medway with information about them and their other academies elsewhere in the country. I provide a summary list of the sponsored academies below.
The sponsored academies are:
Kent secondary schools:
High Weald Academy (previously Angley School); Meopham School; Orchards Academy (previously Swanley Technology College); Oasis Hextable Academy
Medway secondary schools: Hundred of Hoo School.
Kent primary schools:
Ashford: Pluckley Church of England Primary School; & Smarden Primary School
Canterbury: Petham Primary School; Pilgrims Way Primary School and Nursery (application in progress)
Dartford: Hartley Primary School; York Road Junior Academy (previously York Road Junior School and Language Unit); Knockhall Community (in progress, Lilac Sky Academy Trust)
Dover: Temple Ewell Church of England Primary School (Application in progress)
Gravesend: Chantry Community Academy; Dover Road Primary (application in progress); Istead Rise Primary School (application probably in progress); Raynehurst Primary School (application in progress);
Maidstone:Molehill Copse Primary school; Oaks Academy (previously Oak Trees Community School); St James the Great Academy (previously St James the Great Primary Community and Nursery School); Treetops Academy (previously Bell Wood Community Primary School).
Malling: Aylesford Primary School (Application in progress)
Sittingbourne: Kemsley Primary School; Milton Court Primary Schoo; lRegis Manor Community Primary School; Westlands Primary School
Swanley: Horizon Primary School;
Thanet: Christ Church Church of England Junior School in Ramsgate (Application in progress); Dame Janet Primary Academy (previously Dame Janet Infant & Junior Schools), Drapers Mill Primary School, Margate; Newlands Primary, Northdown Primary; St Laurence in Thanet Church of England Junior School; & Salmestone Primary,
Tunbridge Wells: Temple Grove Academy, (previously Sherwood Park Community Primary School)
Medway primary schools:
Allhallows Primary School; Elaine Primary Academy; High Halstow Primary school (application in progress); Kingfisher Community Primary School; Lordswood Primary School (Application in progress); Oasis Academy Skinner Street; Phoenix Junior Academy (previously Glencoe Junior School); Robert Napier School; Saxon Way Primary Academy; St James Church of England Primary Academy, Isle of Grain
Milestone Special School, New Ash Green.
New for October:
Then there are the converter academies, usually stand alone schools, but sometimes in Federations (F) (mainly also indicated above):
Secondary: The Abbey School, Faversham; Astor College for the Arts; Barton Court Grammar School, Canterbury; Bennett Memorial Diocesan School, Tunbridge Wells; Borden Grammar School, Canterbury High School (F); Castle Community College, Deal; Dane Court Grammar School, Broadstairs; Dartford Grammar School; Chatham House Grammar School, Ramsgate (in Federation with Clarendon House Grammar School); Cornwallis School; Cranbrook School; Folkestone School for Girls; Fulston Manor School, Sittingbourne; Gravesend Grammar School; The Harvey Grammar School, Folkestone; Hartsdown Technology College, Margate; Herne Bay High School; Highworth Grammar School, Ashford, in a chain with the Towers School, Kennington & Brockhill Park Performing Arts College, Hythe; Highsted Grammar School, Sittingbourne; Hillview School, Tonbridge; Invcta Grammar School, Maidstone; King Ethelbert's School, Westgate (F); Mascalls School, Paddock Wood; The Maplesden Noakes School, Maidstone; Mayfield Grammar School (previously Gravesend Grammar School for Girls); New Line Learning (in Federation with Cornwallis); The Norton Knatchbull School, Ashford; Oakwood Park Grammar School, Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Faversham; Sandwich Technology School (in a chain with Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre, Tenterden); Saint George's Church of England School, Gravesend; Sir Roger Manwood's School Sandwich; Sittingbourne Community School; Tonbridge Grammar School; Valley Park School, Maidstone; Weald of Kent Grammar School, Tonbridge; Westlands School, Sittingbourne (in Federation); Wilmington Grammar School for Girls, in a chain with Wilmington Grammar School for Boys); ); Wrotham School.
Primary: Allington Primary School, Maidstone; Amherst Primary in Sevenoaks; Barton Junior School, Dover (F); Canterbury Primary School (F); Chiddingstone Primary School; Christ Church Cof E Primary School, Folkestone; Graveney Primary School (Faversham); Grove Park Junior School, Sittingbourne; Hampton Primary School, Herne Bay; Hersden Village Primary School (F); Joydens Wood Infant School and Joydens Wood Junior School in a chain with Wilmington Primary School; Luddenham School, Faversham; Lynsted and Norton Primary School; Meopham Community Academy (previously Meopham Primary School), taking over Chantry School, Gravesend; Milstead and Frinstead Church of England Primary School (F). St Eanswythe's CofE Primary School,Folkestone; St John's CofE Primary School, Maidstone; St Mary's CofE Primary School, Folkestone; St Stephen's Junior School, Canterbury Federated with Pilgrim's Way Primary School, Canterbury (academy application in progress); Selling Primary School (F); Shatterlocks Infant school, Dover (F); Sheldwich Primary School; Sturry Cof E Primary School (F); Warden House Primary School, Deal; Wentworth Primary School, Dartford, West Malling Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School and Language Unit; Whitecliffs Primary College of the Arts, Dover (F).
Other secondary academies in Medway: Chatham Grammar School for Boys; Chatham Grammar School for Girls; Fort Pitt Grammar School; Greenacre School; Rainham Mark Grammar School; Rainham School for Girls; The Rochester Grammar School; The Thomas Aveling School in Rochester; and Walderslade Girls School.
Other primary academies in Medway: All Faiths' Children's Community Primary School, Strood; Chattenden Primary School; Cliffe Woods Primary School; Woodlands Primary School in Gillingham.
No new conversions for September
Converter Academy applications in progress
Other schools with applications in progress are: Ellington and Hereson School (secondary) in Ramsgate (1st April 2014, Federated with Dane Court Grammar). Holmesdale Technology College, Snodland (in Federation with The Malling School); The North School, Ashford; St Anselm's Catholic School, Canterbury; St Gregory's Catholic Comprehensive School, TW, St John's Catholic Comprehensive School, Gravesend; St Simon Stock Catholic School, Maidstone; The Skinners’ School in Tonbridge; Swan Valley Community School, Swanscombe (in Federation with The Hayesbrook school; Bobbing Village Primary School (Sittingbourne); Borough Green Primary School; Bromstone Primary School, Broadstairs; Chantry Primary School, Gravesham (Federated with Meopham Community Primary Academy); Furly Park Primary; Garlinge Primary School and Nursery, Margate; Hamstreet Primary; Iwade Community Primary School (Sittingbourne); Kingsdown and Ringwould CofE Primary School; Kings Farm Primary School(Gravesend); Lady Boswell's Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School, Sevenoaks; Minterne Community Primary School (Sittingbourne); Mundella Primary School, Folkestone; Riverhead Infants School; St Ethelbert's Catholic Primary School, Ramsgate; St Francis Catholic Primary School, Maidstone; St Gregory's Catholic Primary School,Margate; St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Northfleet; St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Broadstairs; St Richard’s Catholic Primary School in Dover. South Avenue Infant School (Sittingbourne).
This makes ( I think) a total of 72 Kent secondary schools out of 101 in progress or already having converted, and 15 in Medway out of 17, together with 77 Kent Primary Schools (several of which are now part of all through Academies) and one Kent Special School, and eight primary schools in Medway. You will find KCC's list here.
New Applications in October
Two new Kent applications to become academies in October: Whitehill Primary School in Gravesend (in conjunction with Gravesend Grammar School); West Kent Health Needs Education Service for Tonbridge and Malling (Pupil Referral Unit).
For me, the major concerns are the two tier financial structure being created and a lack of accountability. The threat to a failing school was that it would be closed and turned into an academy. What happens to a failing academy (they do exist and numbers will inevitably increase)? Against this, there is no doubt that academies are raising the status of schools, and some are notable successes. It is no coincidence that the most oversubscribed school in Kent and most successful on a number of counts is an academy which is now spreading its wings and oversees the working of three others that have seen greatly improved exam results this year. - It is the Leigh Academy in Dartford. The myth of higher standards can be seen from research quoted by the admittedly partisan Anti-Academies Alliance. Sadly this does not appear to create as many headlines as the vast pro-academy public relations exercise mounted by government amongst others.
You will find a Paper discussed by KCC in July 2010, that outlined the then situation here. The Paper asserts "Our detailed analysis explains that the Government appears intent on repeating one of the worst aspects of the previous Grant Maintained system and that academies will, at least initially, receive significant top up funding beyond the funding received by LA maintained schools, contrary to their publicly stated principles for academy funding that academies should receive broadly comparable funding to schools that choose to remain LA maintained".
The concern over lack of accountability sees parents unhappy with provision finding it very difficult or impossible to get satisfaction, for the local authority does not have responsibility for the internal running of Academies, and Department of Education processes can often appear impenetrable. The Local Government Ombudsman has no role in complaints about academies or appeals for admission or permanent exclusion, as they do not come under the aegis of local authorities. For complaints about academy admission appeals see my website article here. The correct route for complaints about academies, is via the DofE. You will find the procedure here. Oddly, the DfE website recommends a private charity, Coram Children's Legal Centre for legal advice about such matters. I have no information about this charity other than what is on their website.
Parents who send their children to academies need to understand the issues, although for most it may well be the best or only option available, and a very positive experience.