The sharp drop of over a quarter in the Sixth Form intake in September 2017 will be partially down to the removal of practical vocational courses including the thriving Hair and Beauty Department whose successes can be tracked by Internet searches or from the school website the year before it was closed down. Or the Catering Department, just a year after the grand opening of its Training Kitchen. In both areas, students learned to provide for the public in a very practical way, surely the mark of a truly vocational course, but sadly not fitting Turner Schools’ model of academic excellence for all.
ADMISSION ARRANGEMENTS FOR POST 16 PLACES
Folkestone Academy operates a Sixth Form for a total of 400 students across Years 12 and 13 with 200 places available overall in Year 12. This is the number of places which will be offered on an annual basis to eligible external applicants. 200 spaces are open to Folkestone Academy Year 11 students for a place in Year 12 and who meet the criterion set out below. If fewer than 200 of the Academy’s own Year 11 students successfully transfer into Year 12, additional external students will be admitted until Year 12 meets its capacity of 200. There are academic minimum academic entry requirements for each course available based upon GCSE grades or other measures of prior attainment which will be published on the Academy website or in the 6th Form Prospectus. Students are expected to obtain B grades in subjects they wish to study at A Level. Requirements for admission are the same for both internal and external pupils.
Offers will be made on the basis of predicted performance at GCSE, with the requirement that the above grades are achieved in the final examinations prior to entry to the Sixth Form and the pupil’s three chosen subjects being accommodated on the timetable, in feasible group sizes.
Sentence two tells us that not only are there 200 places available for external students, immediately contradicted by sentence three. There is NO general requirement for performance laid down, although deep in the Sixth Form Prospectus there is a requirement for Level 4 in English and maths. This is immediately contradicted by a proviso that students who do not achieve these grades can be considered after an interview with the Sixth Form Team although it is unlawful according to the Admissions Code of Practice cannot form part of a process on whthere to offer a place.
Just two flaws in this financial analysis. The falling numbers in Post 16 are a direct result of the school cutting out various practical vocational options in its drive to secure more Russell Group University places – although I am not sure how this helps or what is wrong with many other universities, and will be exacerbated by the poor GCSE results. The ‘return to normal numbers’ in Year 7 is mainly due to the entirely predictable opening of the Turner Free School in September 2018, which the Trust must have known about when it took over the school and so can’t blame it on problems with the calculation, or some vague 'inheritance' with its inference of blame on the previous administration.
Intake and 6th Form Staying on
|Year||Intake||Year 11||Year 12||
The facts of the matter could of course have been clarified if Turner Schools had not refused my FOI request for the current figures in each year group of each of its four schools, on the presumably spurious grounds that it was planning to publish all this information some time. The fact that I am not aware of any other school in the country which does this voluntarily does rather cast doubt on the Trust's claimed intention and the matter is now in the hands of the Information Commissioner's Office.
SchoolsWeek records that the trust is in discussion with the DfE because it believes the correct clawback figure is “significantly less than the figure cited”. However, the academy’s own staff consultation confirms a funding deficit of £770,000, considerably more than the SchoolsWeek figure.
The good news for Turner Schools is that it has excellent links with government and so may benefit from the SchoolsWeek revelation that some ‘schools owing clawback have had the debt written off. The highest write-off was £1 million owed by the Greenwich UTC’.
The Appointment Brief sent to candidates is yet another astonishing document following last summer’s bizarre adverts for Heads of mathematics and English. It quite reasonably explains that the Executive Principal will line manage the primary and secondary phase leaders, the Heads of School, among other colleagues. It then lists 19 key accountabilities and a personal specification looking for 27 qualities which candidates should possess or be able to demonstrate, although many appear to be just general platitudes. It says almost nothing about the Academy itself apart from its new mission of ‘sea change’ focusing on implied or explicit criticisms of its past. However, it does require the Executive Principal to maintain an effective Partnership with the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, whose work as previous sponsor the Trust regularly denigrates, although having performed considerably better at GCSE than under the new managements. I was interested to see the requirement to deliver a well-disciplined learning environment now described as Tough Love, a term I have used to describe other brutal environments in struggling Kent schools to little effect, except large numbers of pupils attempting to flee them. Still none of the three are able to come near to the massive exclusion level at Folkestone Academy secondary section over the past year.
Whatever the cause, Saxton Bampfylde has failed to find a suitable candidate to be appointed as Executive Principal of the all age academy, although one current Kent headteacher was interviewed. Instead the Trust has gone for an internal appointment, Wesley Carroll, as Principal working to Dr Saxton as CEO, responsible for the secondary section. This is a rapid rise for Mr Carroll, having been appointed as Vice Principal just 14 months ago and promoted to Head of School in April this year so, although short of senior experience he has certainly seen a kaleidoscope of happenings over the last 18 months of controversy at the school, including a turnover of three previous heads along with other senior staff.
He succeeds Mr Boxall, who Dr Saxton described in writing to parents as 'Principal of a number of schools including an Outstanding Academy in Kent'. She subsequently wrote to me denying knowledge of his history, which instead included a short stint at a failing academy in Medway, and appears to have limited interest in experience as a quality. For, whilst Head of Education at the Future Academies Trust in 2013, she appointed a young headteacher to Pimlico Free School, the appointee still in training to be a teacher. Not surprisingly the appointment lasted just two weeks.