Much of the Report describes a school that is actually outstanding in a number of respects and, at the Inspectors’ Feedback at which I was present, there was much discussion of the agreed astonishing trajectory of improvement taking place in the school. However, there is no doubt that the school is still catching up on the appalling situation of the summer of 2014 when two thirds of the staff resigned many in protest at the leadership of the school, Key Stage Two results were cancelled because of cheating by senior staff, and KS1 results were also annulled because of cheating, both of which appeared to have been tolerated by the Academy Trust, as those responsible were allowed to remain in post in their home schools. You will find the background here.
It was acknowledged by the Inspectors at this latest Inspection that, where there were still areas for improvement any issues behind them are now fundamentally resolved because of robust action by the school leadership and, with the current more stable staffing situation any remaining underperformance should fade away.
King’s Farm Primary serves a community with above average levels of deprivation, although this would be difficult to determine from aspects of the Report. Creativity pervades the school, illustrated by magnificent displays which celebrate pupil’s work and also the imaginative approaches used to help pupils learn well. Singing has been energised by a music specialist. Pupils' understanding of the fundamental British values of democracy, tolerance and respect are strong because these values are reinforced through the curriculum and throughout every aspect of school life. There is a strong sense of community based on the school’s values and pupils who met the Inspectors could enthusiastically describe examples of aspiration, courage, creativity, honesty, kindness respect and responsibility around them. Great care is shown to all pupils, including impressive support for those who face challenges. Pupils are very supportive of each other, including those from Ifield School. Behaviour is good and pupils are proud to be members of King’s Farm Primary School. There is an extensive range of extra-curricular clubs. The family support worker is tenacious in following up issues.
There is plenty more in the same vein, reflecting what can be done in a maintained school which enjoys a productive relationship with the Local Authority.
I am so proud to be a governor of the Cedar Federation, of what has been achieved at King’s Farm Primary, of commitment of the teachers who have worked so hard to bring this about (amazing how many are still working away after school on a Friday, a time when I am in) but most of all of our children, described as being polite to each other and to visitors, opening doors, and showing good manners at all times. The Executive Headteacher and driving force of the Federation, Pam Jones OBE, is a National Leader of Education who has overseen this astonishing recovery. She is supported by a superb leadership and, whilst the inspirational Consultant Headteacher of King’s Farm, Catherine Taylor, is moving on job done, to Murston Primary School in Sittingbourne for September, she will be succeeded by a head of school designate who has worked in the school since January and, according to OFSTED, is flourishing in his role and well prepared for the leadership transition, taking over a fully staffed school.
OFSTED waxes lyrically over the new Federation Governing Body led by an astute chair of governors. They praise governors wide ranging expertise and their high motivation, using detailed knowledge of pupils’ progress to challenge school leaders effectively, and frequently visiting the school to see for themselves how staff are implementing changes.
However, there is still much to be done. Not surprisingly the school is full for September, and the school is now a happy and safe place for children, but the relentless drive for further improvement required by OFSTED is in the safe hands of a total committed and able teaching staff, leadership and governing body.