The number of pupils withdrawn from OAIS for Home Education hit a record number for schools across Kent for many years, of 44 in 2016-17, Mr Cavadino’s first year in post. This is more than double the 20 of the previous year in his less than illustrious predecessor’s also short term of office.
The school has made maximum use of the Swale Inclusion Centre, designed as a short term respite for pupils at risk of exclusion with 27 placements, second highest of any school in Kent (just below another Tough Love Academy), although some pupils are transferred there permanently, and as a consequence do not appear in the school GCSE statistics. Other Year 11 pupils were sent home early last summer for compulsory ‘study leave’ well before GCSE to enable the school to focus on those who can do well, which is effectively unlawful exclusion.
Reports of unchecked bullying continue to be rife, with the victims (not the bullies) sometimes being transferred between the two sites of the school in an attempt to resolve the issue.
Academically, the previous Principal forecast great things in the summer of 2016, as he was leaving, but which never came to fruition. In a letter to parents about Mr Cavadino’s sudden departure, the Oasis Trust praises the ‘climb’ in GCSE Progress 8 Grades, which is to ‘below average’. Oddly it doesn’t mention the parallel Attainment 8 Grades, also one of the lowest in Kent. Ironically, GCSE performance has been consistently worse than since the most recent pre-Oasis headteacher (David Day), who achieved the best results ever, was sacked by Oasis in 2013, his reputation being trampled on by his successor.
A letter to parents from the Oasis Regional Director sent on the first day of term explains how Mr Cavadino had a short illness but on his return to work had several meetings her. Then, and apparently at no notice, in the interests of the Academy and his family he decided to step down and take on a class teaching role in Oasis Academy Croydon, as his passion is to be in the classroom with his students. I am not sure how many families will agree with the Regional Director about his ‘characteristic care and compassion for all of our young people’, given the above, but no doubt this operates best at a classroom level. However, by coincidence this was the only virtue the Academy Trust could find about him in a press release that I had to fight for the following day, presumably prepared as a response to my question. This rather suggests this was the agreed teerm in the confidentiality agreement that would have been signed on his departure.
After his predecessor's sudden departure, local M.P. Gordon Henderson was quoted as having been ‘reassured the school would be able to find a good replacement and improve further in the future’. In the end, the Oasis Trust could apparently find no suitable external candidate and Mr Cavadino, then Vice-Principal of the already struggling and controversial OAIS, was appointed presumably as a new broom. What a pity. Sadly, Mr Henderson does not appear to be aware of the many issues that festered under Mr Cavadino's leadership being quoted as saying:'I was sorry to hear John has left the Oasis Academy because I had a lot of time for him. The school desperately needs stability and I had hoped he would provide it'. Has he really not been listening to his constituents who have complained bitterly to him about Mr Cavadino, but reportedly received little support. I accept that he did not need to take notice of my own letter to him outlining a catalogue of serious issues sent in June 2017, but it would be good for him to acknowledge publicly the damage inflicted on pupil's education and careers by the academy and its leaders.
The Academy has now announced that 'We are delighted that Ms Lee (current Associate Principal) has accepted our offer to become Interim Principal of the Academy. Already an integral part of the senior leadership team....'. This may come as a reassurance to parents. However, the leadership of Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey has clearly become a poisoned chalice, as its seeks a sixth Principal since academisation in ten years. However the school's failures stretch back many years before this (I was headhunted in 1984, but wisely turned it down!).
This short, brutal removal is characteristic for the departure of many Academy Principals and senior staff who have disappointed their leaders, whether rightly or wrongly, and appears to pay little attention to employment legislation, presumably being covered by pay-offs and confidentiality agreements.