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Academies

Index

Last updated after extensive revision. August 2021

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Introduction

YOU WILL FIND A FULL LIST OF ACADEMIES IN KENT AND MEDWAY ON LATER PAGES OF THIS ARTICLE 

A recent article 'Academy and Free School News July 2021', is the latest in a series that contains much additional material. 

When I started this page ten years ago, it was a simple matter of record. As you read it, you will become aware it is now a very detailed set of data and I am only too happy to correct any errors or omissions that may have crept in. 

You will find another full list of every Academy arranged by Multi-Academy Trust, and Single Academy Trust and operating in Kent and Medway, hereLikewise the Free Schools page, and the University Technical Colleges page

There is much more information about each Kent and Medway secondary school individually via the links.  

An academy is a school directly funded by the Department for Education (DfE) 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 OfstedAcademies 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, as explained most recently here, with a preferred minim size of 12 schools. 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 the government and set their own terms and conditions for teachers (Headteachers generally attracting considerably higher salaries than for other schools). 

New schools have to be Free Schools which also makes them legally academies or Voluntary Aided Faith Schools, although there are none of the latter in Kent or Medway. For these, the government provides the building costs and MATs or sponsors run the school. You will find a separate information article on Kent and Medway's Free Schools here, which now looks at all new schools (in need of updating). All are required to obey the same Admissions Code and are members of the Kent or Medway coordinated admissions scheme, except for new Free Schools which have an exemption for one year. 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 on the Multi-Academy Trust page

Currently, over three-quarters of Kent secondary schools (79/101) are academies, with another three having made a current application (all held up because of PFI issues). 41% of all Kent primaries (188/461) are academies of which eight are Free Schools, with another eight officially in progress, although several approvals date back for some years. Just 3 out of 24 Kent Special Schools are academies, along with one of the six PRUs and alternative Provisions. In Medway, 94% (16/17) of secondary schools are academies and 70% (52/79) of the primaries, along with four more in progress. Four of the five Medway Special Schools are Academies, along with one of the two Pupil Referral Units.  

The lists on the next two pages comprise five types of academy, each denoted by an initial letter. 'O' for 'old-style', the original City Academies drawn up by the then Labour government and originally based on replacing failing schools in socially deprived urban areas, although this definition became stretched as governments sought to increase the number. For example, the Knole Academy in Sevenoaks does not qualify 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. The first of these locally was the now-closed Marlowe Academy in 2005.  Those approved later were still generously treated usually benefiting from a major rebuild, usually of £15 million or more. Most of these academies have main sponsors who were given control of the institution for a donation of the order of £2 million, waived in the case of charities or churches. Old Style Academies are generally now sponsored by a Multi-Academy Trust. 

Then there are the  'sponsored' (Sp) academies, sponsors being organisations or persons who have received approval from the DfE to support an underperforming school or group of schools, and the Converter (C) academies, whose governors voted to change their status. Both types 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 (first written twelve years ago, but still applicable). In my opinion, certain academies still attracted undue priority for their bids in the most recent capital allocations I have analysed. Many academies are expanding fast, including grammar schools.

Where new schools have been set up, either because of a growing population or because an interest group wishes to promote education according to their philosophy, these become Free Schools (F) but also come under the academy umbrella. Kent and Medway each have one University Technical College (UTC), although both have changed in character and age group admitted because of failure to attract numbers.

A further classification is between academies that form part of a Multi-Academy Trust (M) which are identified on my Academy Groups page, or Single Academy Trusts (S).  

I also include links to articles about individual schools, where appropriate.  

There is no pattern for these schools, but on the complementary page I have attempted to list the Multi Academy Trusts that operate in Kent and Medway, together with some information about them and their other academies elsewhere in the county.
 
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 many schools, and some are notable successes. The myth of higher standards can be seen from research quoted by the admittedly partisan Anti-Academies Alliance and many others. Sadly this does not appear to create as many headlines as the vast pro-academy public relations exercise mounted by government.

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 ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency, putting it at arms length from the DfE).  However, the explanation begins: 'Before escalating an academy complaint to us, you should first complain to the academy. You should follow the academy’s complaints procedure. We cannot change an academy’s decision about a complaint. Our role is to make sure the academy handles your complaint properly'. That is self-governing!!! Some parents have better luck with the Regionla Schools Commissioner where there has been a body of complaints from different people, encouraging the RSC to investigate. The DfE website used to recommend 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.

Next: Kent  Academies by District, including Special Schools, and Alternative Provision.

Page Three lists Medway Academies by District, including Special Schools, and Alternative Provision, followed by all Applications in progress and lapsed applications. 


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Last modified on Sunday, 29 August 2021 23:29
More in this category: « Free Schools Academy Groups »