"In accordance with section 13 (3) of the Education Act 2005, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector is of the opinion that this school requires special measures because it is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement". In other words, the blame is laid fairly and squarely on the Trustees, and the senior staff. The previous Principal suddenly left the school in the summer, and an "Intervention Team"was quietly brought in to manage the school from a large Academy group, Academies Education Trust. The Report states: "While steps were taken following the previous inspection to analyse more thoroughly information about students’ learning, it was not well used to set appropriate targets and shape planning. Low expectations and an over-optimistic view of students’ progress and attainment contributed to the academy’s failure to meet targets and to students’ continuing underachievement. Monitoring of teaching has lacked rigour.Trustees and governors have not held the academy’s leaders and managers to account effectively for the impact of their work. Since September, the interim intervention team has led a thorough review of the academy’s provision. It has introduced strategies to strengthen management at all levels, to eradicate inadequate teaching and to match the curriculum more productively to students’ needs. This is work in progress, with limited impact so far. A strong and sustainable core of substantive leadership and management has yet to be developed".
To find out more about the Intervention Team run by Academies Enterprise Trust, follow the link.
What happens next? Well parents are already voting with their feet, and the Academy will open in September with over half its Year Seven places vacant, in the wonderful new £30 million building. The academy will therefore shortly become financially unsustainable. Special Measures often means the leadership is got rid of, in this case, the leadership replacing the leadership that has already been got rid of. Government has regularly expressed the view that if a school fails an OFSTED twice, it should be turned into an Academy. There appears to be no policy for dealing with a twice failing academy! It has been said it should revert to the Local Authority, but one cannot see Kent wanting this hot potato.
However, the philosophy behind the academy movement is that the trustees who are given independence to run this multi-million pound will somehow have more expertise than school governors backed by a local authority. They have clearly failed, but there appears no mechanism in place to discharge them. A visit to the academy website suggests they are still in denial about the failure, as the front page contains a message from the Board of Trustees calmly informing parents that: "Ofsted Inspectors are conducting a monitoring visit at The Marlowe Academy during 21st and 22nd March. They will observe lessons, look at statistical data, meet the Interim Principal and his team, and talk to groups of teachers and students. They will be looking especially at how The Marlowe Academy has progressed this year. A report should be available by the middle of next week, which will be available to parents";. No mention of the failed OFSTED Report, or the fact that because of the long delay in publishing the Report, this is actually the first routine monitoring of a failed school. (this item was removed earlier today!). As always, the children who are unlucky enough to attend this academy are the victims, but they don't get a mention or an apology. This story was covered on BBC SE today, including an interview with myself.