Supporting Families
  • banner10
  • banner9
  • banner12
  • banner4
  • banner8
  • banner6
  • banner13
  • banner3
  • banner11
  • banner2


Last updated  June 2019




When I started this page seven 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 or omissions that may have crept in. 

Government policy has now backed away from forcing all schools to become academies, whilst still putting considerable pressure on underperforming school to change status. A BBC article from October 2016 explains the current situation well. 

The concept of an academy becomes increasingly complicated and below I have attempted a simplistic definition only. For an excellent legal understanding go to the ‘Can of Worms’ website, where an analysis is provided by the Education Law Journal.  Of particular interest is the learned comment at the foot of the article by Sir Peter Newsam, first Chief Schools Adjudicator. One quote:it needs to be recognised that the contract system (the current academy model), as a way of running thousands of individual institutions, is expensive, inefficient and dangerous. The expense and inefficiency are becoming obvious. The danger lies in the power contracts give to an individual government minister. Annual funding, much of it discretionary, by an individual, on which a school is wholly dependent, is precisely what the 1944 Act was so careful to prevent. An academy is a government school, defined as a school created by a government minister, wholly dependent on funding approved by that minister and subject to a terminable contract with that minister”.

 You will find KCC's views on Academies and Free Schools set out in their Evidence to the Select Committee Enquiry into Academies and Free Schools back in 2014. I published an article describing what is quite an outspoken document.  

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 Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs). 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 new schools, and these now have to be academies, Free Schools, or Voluntary Aided Schools (I can't see the logic for these last in converting, where 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. You will find a  parallel information article on Kent and Medway's Free Schools here.  

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 three quarters of Kent secondary schools, academies and free schools (74/101) are either academies or free schools, with another five having made application (although several are held up because of PFI issues), a total of 79%. There are over a third of all Kent primaries (170 /457), another 11 officially in progress, a total of 40%.  In Medway 94% (16/17) of Medway's secondaries are academies and 52/79 of the primaries, along with three more in progress, 66% in all. There  is one academy Special School in Kent out of 21, and four out of five in Medway. Academies exist in either Stand Alone Trusts (SAT) or Multi Academy Trusts (MAT). There are currently 61 Kent  academies in SATs and 178 in MATs, of which 30 are in small units of two schools only, and 46 in MATS with 10 or more academies in Kent. 

The distinction between academies and Free Schools is becoming increasingly blurred, but you will find a list of distinct Free Schools here

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

I have now heard anecdotal evidence of several schools which signed up to be sponsored or converter academies, in Multi-Academy Trusts, where the agreed level of top-slicing of the academy budget to pay for Trust costs is greatly increased soon after the conversion takes place.

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.
You will find a list of Multi-Academy Trusts here, Old Style Academies generally being sponsored by one of these. 

The old style academies are: Brompton Academy, Gillingham (sponsored by University of Kent); Cornwallis Academy, Maidstone (Future Schools Trust); Dover Christ Church Academy (Canterbury Christ Church University);  The Duke of York's Royal Military School, Dover (fully boarding, previously Independent, with a tradition of admitting children of military families, associated with Dover Federation of the Arts); Folkestone Academy (all through, incorporating the previous Folkestone Primary Academy, now Turner Schools, previously sponsored by Roger De Haan); Isle of Sheppey Academy; The John Wallis C of E Academy Ashford (all through, incorporating the previous Linden Grove Primary School, Ashford);  The Knole Academy, Sevenoaks; Leigh Academy, Dartford (Leigh Academy Trust); Longfield Academy, Dartford (Leigh Academy Trust); Marsh Academy, Romney Marsh (previously Tonbridge School, now Skinners Company); New Line Learning Academy, Maidstone, (Future Schools); Orchards Academy, Swanley (TKAT); St Augustine Academy, Maidstone; Strood Academy (Sponsored by University of Creative Arts); Skinners Kent Academy, Tunbridge Wells (Skinners Company); Spires Academy, Canterbury; Victory Academy, Chatham (Thinking Schools Academy Trust, previously Bishop of Rochester Academy, Rochester Anglican Diocese); and  Wilmington Academy, Dartford (Leigh Academy Trust).

Newer academies fall into two types: 'sponsored' and 'converter'. Both types of academy are able to bid 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 most recent capital allocations I have analysed. Many academies are expanding fast, including grammar schools.
Sponsored Academies
The first type are the Sponsored Academies, who are taken over by more successful schools, academy chains or other organisations. Increasingly, they are new schools. 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. 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 no pattern for these schools, but I have attempted to identify the Multi Academy Trusts  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, cross check with the Multi Academy Trust groups page to find the sponsor.  

The sponsored academies are (in their academy groups here):

Kent secondary schools

Charles Dickens School, Broadstairs; Ebbsfleet Academy (previously Swan Valley School); High Weald Academy (previously Angley School); The Lenham School, (previously Swadelands School); Meopham School; Orchards Academy (previously Swanley Technology College); SchoolsCompany The Goodwin Academy; St Edmund’s Catholic Secondary, Dover; Sittingbourne Community College.

Medway secondary schools: Holcombe Grammar (previously Chatham Grammar for Boys); Hundred of Hoo Academy (5-19); Robert Napier; Waterfront UTC (previously Medway UTC) 

Kent primary schools:

Ashford:  Beaver Green Primary; Brenzett CofE; Chilmington Green Primary; Finberry Primary; Kennington CofE Juniors; Kingsnorth CofE; John Wallis Academy (Primary Section,previously Linden Grove).

Canterbury: Petham Primary;  Pilgrims Way Primary School and Nursery; Reculver CofE Primary 

Cranbrook: Cranbrook Primary (in progress)

Dartford: Cherry Orchard Primary Academy; Dartford Primary Academy (previously York Road Junior School and Language Unit, and St Alban's Primary); Knockhall Community;Westgate Primary.  

Dover:  Charlton CofE Primary; Hersden Village Primary School (F); Temple Ewell Church of England Primary. 

Faversham: St Mary of Charity CofE (Aided) Primary School

Gravesham: Chantry Community AcademyCopperfield Academy (previously Dover Road Primary); Istead Rise Primary ;  Rosherville CofE Primary; Tymberwood Academy (previously Raynehurst Primary School) 

Maidstone: Archbishop Courtney Primary; Barming Primary; Holy Family RC Primary; Molehill Copse Primary; Oaks Academy (previously Oak Trees Community School); St Francis Catholic Primary (in progress); 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; Valley Invicta Primary School at Holborough Lakes (Snodland); Valley Invicta Primary School at Kings Hill; Valley Invicta Primary School at Leybourne Chase (Maidstone) 

Sevenoaks: West Kingsdown CofE VC Primary School (in progress)

Shepway: Brenzett CofE; Lydd Primary; Folkestone Academy (Primary Section, previously Park Farm Primary); Martello Grove Academy, with SEN Unit; Morehall Primary; St Nicholas CofE, New Romney.

Sheppey:  St Edward's Catholic; Thistle Hill Academy; 

Sittingbourne: Kemsley Primary; Lansdowne Primary; Milton Court Primary; Richmond Primary; South Avenue Junior;  Westlands Primary School

Swanley:  Horizon Primary School;

Thanet: Chilton Academy Primary School; Christ Church Church of England Junior School in Ramsgate; Cliftonville Primary; 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,

Tonbridge: Royal Rise Academy (previously St Stephen's Primary)

Tunbridge Wells: Skinners' Kent Primary School; Temple Grove Academy, (previously Sherwood Park Community Primary School) 

Medway primary schools:
Allhallows Primary School; Byron Primary; Cedar Children's Academy; Cuxton Community Junior; Deanwood Primary; Elaine Primary Academy; Featherby Junior; High Halstow Primary; Gordon Infant and Junior (operating as Gordon Schools Federation); Kingfisher Community Primary; Lordswood Primary; Napier Community Primary & Nursery, Gillingham ; New Horizons Children's Academy, Chatham; Oasis Academy Skinner Street; Phoenix Junior Academy (previously Glencoe Junior School); Saxon Way Primary Academy; St James Church of England Primary Academy, Isle of Grain; St Margaret's CofE Junior; Temple Mill Primary; Twydall Primary; Warren Wood Community Primary & Language Unit.
Sponsored Academies in Development
Community College Whitstable (Swale Academies Trust); Maundene School (Inspire Partnership); Holmesdale School, Snodland; North School, Ashford (Swale Academies Trust, PFI); Riverview Junior (Gravesend, Pathway Trust); Royal Harbour Academy (Coastal Academies Trust, PFI);  St Francis Catholic Primary, Maidstone (Kent Catholic Schools Partnership); St Stephen's (Tonbridge) Primary School (sponsor discussions in progress); West Kingsdown CofE VC (Rochester Diocesan Board); 
 Converter Academies
Secondary SAT: The Abbey, Faversham;  Borden Grammar, Sittingbourne; Brockhill Park Performing Arts College, Hythe; Chatham & Clarendon Grammar School, Ramsgate ; Cranbrook School; Dartford Grammar; Dartford Grammar Girls; Folkestone School for Girls; The Harvey Grammar, Folkestone; Herne Bay High School; Highsted Grammar, Sittingbourne; Highworth Grammar, Ashford; Hillview, Tonbridge; The Maplesden Noakes, Maidstone; Mayfield Grammar (previously Gravesend Grammar Girls); The Norton Knatchbull, Ashford; Oakwood Park Grammar, Maidstone; Queen Elizabeth's Grammar, Faversham; Sandwich Technology; Sir Roger Manwood's, Sandwich;  Tonbridge Grammar;Towers, Kennington; ; 

Secondary MAT: Astor College for the Arts; Barton Court Grammar, Canterbury; Bennett Memorial Diocesan School, Tunbridge Wells; The Canterbury High; Cornwallis, Maidstone;  Dane Court Grammar School, Broadstairs; Fulston Manor, Sittingbourne; Gravesend Grammar; Hayesbrook, Tonbridge; Hartsdown Technology College, Margate; Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre, Tenterden; Invicta Grammar, Maidstone;  King Ethelbert's, Westgate; Mascalls, Paddock Wood; St Anselm's Catholic, Canterbury; Saint George's Church of England, Gravesend;  St Gregory's Catholic Comprehensive, Tunbridge Wells, St Simon Stock Catholic Maidstone; The Skinners', Tunbridge Wells; Ursuline Convent, Westgate -on-Sea; Valley Park, Maidstone; Weald of Kent Grammar, Tonbridge; Westlands, Sittingbourne; Wilmington Grammar Boys; Wilmington Grammar Girls; Wrotham.

Medway: Chatham Grammar School for Girls (S);  Fort Pitt Grammar School (M); Greenacre School (M); Howard School, Gillingham (M);Rainham Mark Grammar School (M); Rainham School for Girls (M); Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School (M); The Rochester Grammar School (M); The Thomas Aveling School (M); and Walderslade Girls School (S)

Ashford:  Adisham CofE Primary (S); Charing CofE Primary; Furley Park Primary (S); Godinton Primary (S); Hamstreet Primary; Kingsnorth CofE Primary; Pluckley CofE Primary; Smarden Primary; St Michael's CofE Primary (Tenterden); St Simon of England RC; Tenterden Infant: Tenterden CofE Junior; 

Canterbury: Canterbury Primary; Hampton Primary (S); St Stephen's Junior; Sturry CofE Primary; 

Cranbrook and Weald: Brenchley and Matfield Primary;

Dartford: The Brent Primary (S); Gateway Primary; Greenlands Primary (previously Darenth Community Primary); Hartley Primary Academy; Joydens Wood Infant (S); Joydens Wood Junior (S); Manor Community Primary, Swanscombe; Oakfield Community; Our Lady of Hartley Catholic Primary; Temple Hill Community; Stone St Mary's CofE; Wentworth Primary; Sutton at Hone CofE; Wilmington Primary (S); West Hill Primary.

 Dover, Deal and Sandwich: Barton Junior; St Joseph’s Catholic Primary (Aylesham); Deal Parochial CofE; The Downs CofE; Hornbeam Primary, Deal; Kingsdown and Ringwould CofE Primary School; Priory Fields; Northbourne CofE Primary; St Martin's; St Mary's Catholic Primary; Sandown School; Sholden CofE Primary; Shatterlocks Infant; Vale View Community; Warden House Primary, Deal; Whitecliffs Primary College of the Arts;

Faversham, Herne Bay, Whitstable:  Graveney Primary (S); Luddenham (S); St Mary's Catholic (Whitstable); Selling Primary; 

Gravesham:  Culverstone Green Primary; Meopham Community Academy (previously Meopham Primary School); Riverview Infants; Shorne CofE Primary; St Botolph's Church of England VA Primary; St John's Catholic Primary; St Joseph's Catholic Primary School; Westcourt Primary; Whitehill Primary; Wrotham Road.

Maidstone: Allington Primary; Coxheath Primary; Loose Primary; St John's CofE Primary School; South Borough Primary; Valley Invicta at Eastborough, 

Malling: Leybourne St Peter & St Paul CofE, VA; More Park Primary; St Mark's CofE (Eccles); West Malling CofE Primary and Language Unit (S);

Sevenoaks: Amherst School (S); Fordcome CofE Primary; St Thomas Catholic Primary; 

Shepway: Christ Church Cof E Primary (S); Dymchurch Primary; St Eanswythe's CofE Primary; St Mary's CofE Primary; Stella Maris Catholic Primary;

Sheppey:  Halfway HousesMinster in Sheppey; St George’s CofE (Aided) Primary; 

Sittingbourne & Rural Swale: Bobbing Village; Borden CofE; Bredgar CofE; Grove Park Junior;  Iwade Community Primary; Lynsted and Norton Primary; Milstead and Frinstead Church of England Primary School; Minterne Community Junior; Oaks Community Infant; Regis Manor Community Primary; Sheldwich Primary; South Avenue Infant; Westlands Primary;

Swanley: Horton Kirby CofE; 

 Thanet: Chilton Primary (Ramsgate); St Gregory's Catholic Primary, Margate; St Joseph's Catholic Primary, Broadstairs; Upton Junior, Broadstairs; 

Tonbridge:  Chiddingstone Primary (S);St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Primary;

Tunbridge Wells: St Augustine's Catholic Primary;

Primary academies in Medway, all MATS: All Faiths' Children's Community Primary, Strood; All Saints CofE Primary, Chatham; Balfour Junior Academy; Barnsole Primary; Bligh Infant and Junior Schools; Brompton-Westbrook Primary; Chattenden Primary; Castle Academy, Rochester (previously Delce Junior); Cliffe Woods Primary;  Cuxton Community Infants;  Deanwood Primary;  Featherby Infant and Nursery; High Halstow  Primary; Hilltop Primary; Hoo St Werburgh Primary; Maundene School; Miers Court Primary; The Pilgrim School; Riverside Primary; St John's Cof E Infant; St Margaret's at Troy Town CofE VC Primary;St Margaret's Infant, Rainham; Stoke Community Primary; Thames View Primary; Walderslade Primary; Wayfield Community Primary & Nursery; Woodlands Primary, Gillingham; 

 Special schools: 

 Milestone Special School, New Ash Green, (M). And in Medway: Bradfields Academy, Chatham (M); Danecourt Community Special School, Gillingham (M); Rivermead  School, Gillingham, (M). The Rowans (Pupil Referral Unit).

Converter Academy applications in progress
Schools with applications in progress are:  Holmesdale Technology College, Snodland; 

 All Souls CofE, Folkestone; Bean Primary, Dartford; Bethersden Primary, Ashford;  Cage Green Primary, Tonbridge; Lamberhurst St Mary's CofE; Parkway Primary, Maidstone; Rolvenden Primary, Tenterden; Roseacre Junior, Maidstone;  St Ethelbert's Catholic Primary, Ramsgate; Sutton Valence Primary, Maidstone.

In Medway: Halling Primary; Park Wood Infant and Junior Schools. 

Several schools that applied for Academy status appear to have withdrawn their applications as they no longer feature on the government data base of Applications. I would be happy to receive further information on these schools. They are: Borough Green Primary School; Bromstone Primary School, Broadstairs; Lady Boswell's Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary, Sevenoaks; Mundella Primary School, Folkestone; Oakfield Community, Dover; Riverhead Infants (Sevenoaks); ;  Sandgate Primary (Shepway); St Mary's Catholic (Canterbury); St Richard’s Catholic Primary School in Dover.

West Kent Health Needs Education Service for Tonbridge and Malling (Pupil Referral Unit);  

Final Thoughts 
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. 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.

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.

Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2019 23:42
More in this category: « Free Schools Academy Groups »