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Wednesday, 04 March 2015 08:06

The Marlowe Academy is to close (technically a takeover)

The long suffering Marlowe Academy in  Ramsgate has announced today that it is merging with the Ellington and Hereson School to form a new school known as The Augustus Pugin Academy. This is effectively the closure of a school that has been mismanaged for years, and which has become non non-viable because of a lack of students, and is the third closure of a Kent secondary school in two years, following the Chaucer Technology School and the announced closure of the Oasis Hextable Academy last month. 

Marlowe Academy

In typical fashion, the current Trustees in an announcement greet the final admission of failure as “I am writing to inform you about an exciting new development for the students, staff and families of Marlowe Academy. In order to further develop the strong local alliance of schools known as the Coastal Academies Trust (CAT), Marlowe Academy and Ellington and Hereson School will be joining together from September 2015 to create a new school, with a proposed name of The Augustus Pugin Academy, working closely with Dane Court Grammar School and King Ethelbert’s school”. As regular browsers of this website know, I have followed the misfortunes of the academy for some years, and ‘Marlowe’ in the website search engine will yield a number of articles detailing its decline and the many attempts by Trustees to paper over the cracks, as once again exemplified by this announcement. You will find a good summary here.

 

Certainly the Trustees have been under pressure from government, as far back as 2011, to give up the leadership of the academy, one major discussion point in education circles being what to do with the £30 million purpose built premises.

A press statement issued by the Trust says: “Although some overall progress has been made in improving academic performance since the Marlowe Academy was established in 2005, student numbers have declined, resulting in financial challenges that require a fresh approach.". It is perhaps unfortunate that this statement is issued so soon after the announcement of 2014 GCSE results, placing the school eighth worst in the country. I have been making the point for some time that the school has until very recently illegally withheld publication of results on its website, contenting itself with provisional results for 2013. The results are now issued, but in a form that completely disguises the poor performance. The final damning OFSTED Report, issued in November 2014, has still not been published, and I can find no indication that parents have been informed of the outcome, both failures again breaking the law.

The Coastal Academies Trust has an excellent reputation, and offers a chance for the long-suffering students at the academy, many of whom are fiercely proud of the Marlowe, to receive a decent education at last. It is headed up by Dane Court Grammar School in Broadstairs and King Ethelbert School in Birchington, Ellington and Hereson being a recent addition. Interestingly, the school is technically run by Kent County Council within the Academies Trust, as there have been problems with its conversion to an academy, so this may be the first case in the country of an academy being returned to Local Authority control.  

Figures for Kent Secondary School allocations show that Ellington and Hereson will be oversubscribed this year, as it has been ever since the Ellington and Hereson Schools were themselves merged back in 2009, whilst The Marlowe has just 32 first choices for its 180 places. This is in spite of a news item on the school website stating that: "We are pleased to say that the Marlowe Academy can report some very good news - applications for September 2015 have increased significantly", when actually total applications have declined from 109 in 2014 (which turned into an intake of 30 students) to 107 this year.  What is not yet announced and will presumably form part of future negotiations is what is to happen to the Marlowe site. Ellington and Hereson is situated in new purpose built premises, built under the Building School for the Future programme, so there is considerable over capacity across the two sites, just 0.8 miles apart, which of course may have contributed to the Marlowe's difficulties. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 04 March 2015 08:38

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