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Thursday, 29 March 2012 09:10

Skinners Kent Academy Success from OFSTED

In complete contrast to the failing Marlowe Academy, see below, Skinners Kent Academy in Tunbridge Wells has just been given a 'good' OFSTED Report. The school has suffered a poor reputation in the town for at least 20 years in its previous incarnations as Sandown Court School and Tunbridge Wells High School (in those days it was hoped a change of name was sufficient to throw off a poor reputation). The Report says: "Most students join the academy with very low attainment. They make consistently good progress and many make outstanding progress so that attainment is rising strongly. Parents, carers, and all students, recognise this”.  The OFSTED took place whilst the school was a building site, as the new buildings rise around it. 


The Report records that 'The number of students known to be eligible for free school meals is above average. The proportion of disabled pupils and those with special educational needs is also above average', so clearly not the typical Tunbridge Wells. It goes on: This is a good school that is improving rapidly. Aspects of its work are outstanding. Governors and leaders are highly ambitious for the success of every student. They have instilled high expectations and a ‘no excuses’ approach to school improvement....


 Excellent relationships between staff and students are built on mutual trust and underpin the supportive learning environment. Students, parents, carers and staff are overwhelmingly positive about the academy and its work. Senior leaders rightly identify the further improvement of teaching and students’ achievement as priorities in securing outstanding overall effectiveness. Achievement is good. There has been a relentless and successful focus on raising attainment. Students now make at least good progress and many make outstanding progress. Generally, students’ literacy skills are underdeveloped when they join the academy. A cross-curricular approach to tackling this issue and developing students’ resilience and confidence in learning is making an impact but it is not yet fully embedded. A very strong trend of improvement in the percentage of students gaining five GCSE results at grades A* to C, including English and mathematics has been secured. However, the gap with the national average has not yet been closed.Teaching is mainly good with an increasing proportion that is outstanding. High quality professional development underpins the growing strengths of individual teachers.

So what is the difference between Marlowe and SKA?


Trying to put aside the Tunbridge Wells image against that of Ramsgate, every report I receive speaks of a charismatic headteacher at Skinners Kent Academy, who is determined to do right for her pupils. In short, the answer is what it nearly always is with failing and outstanding schools - the quality of the leadership. Whilst this is primarily of the headteacher, it is also that of the governors who appoint him or her and are then required to hold the academy’s leaders and managers to account effectively for the impact of their work. To quote the OFSTED Report once again....'The tenacious pursuit of excellence is the touchstone of leadership at every level. Self-evaluation is thorough, tough and accurate. The penetrating focus on improving teaching is uncompromising. Staff are clear about their accountability and, like the students, are proud to be part of a team that will only settle for excellence'.

Last modified on Sunday, 14 April 2013 07:51

1 comment

  • Comment Link Thursday, 11 June 2015 20:05 posted by judith head

    Sandown Court was crap when I was there. I was bullied all the time I was there. PETER: As my article notes, Sandown Court had a terrible history. However, its replacement, Skinners Kent Academy is a fine school, with an excellent reputation. Parents queue up from all over Kent to get their children admitted.

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