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Sunday, 23 June 2019 07:15

Archbishops School: Headteacher suddenly leaves this poorly performing school

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The headteacher of the Foundation Archbishop’s School, Canterbury, has stood down from his post with effect from June 14th, after several years of decline in a school that was until recently one of the most oversubscribed in the county. The number of first choices for the school has nearly halved over the past two years, falling from 125 to 64  applicants for its 140 places. The 38 spaces left unfilled were taken up by Local Authority Allocations (LAA) to the school in 2019, being children who did not apply for it but were awarded no school of their choice. This is over half of the total LAAs in Canterbury District, where not a single place was left vacant before successful grammar school appeals, which will have freed some up in non-selective schools. 


GCSE performance placed the school in the bottom half of Kent non-selective schools for the key measure Progress 8 for the past three years, and well below the much stronger outcomes in 2015 and previously. . This was for a cohort that was strongly selective for most children in Year Seven, in terms of Church Membership, with the remaining 10% of pupils highest performers from a test of ability.

A letter to staff from the KCC School Improvement Team, The Education People, informs them that 'although they may not have been aware (the headteacher) has recently suffered a period of ill health. Whilst his health is improving, (he) has understandably taken the decision to step away from his responsibilities with the school' Parents only get a letter signed by Kim Stoner, a Foundation Governor appointed in January, and not by the Chair of Governors, Charles Wells. She was until recently, Headteacher of St George's Foundation School in Broadstairs, who was also recently brought in as a member of the Interim Executive Body at the troubled Holmesdale School by KCC, so is clearly a trouble shooter. 

Kent County Council (not the governing body with legal responsibility) has appointed Mr David Elliott to take over as Acting Headteacher and he is already in post, suggesting that those responsible are very anxious to speedily reverse the decline. Mr Elliott was headteacher of New Line Learning Academy for four years until 2016 (also leaving mid term), and since then then he has been an Educational Consultant, including carrying out roles for KCC and The Education People. 

Foundation Schools have a degree of separation from the Local Authority, but are still funded by them, as distinct from academies which are funded directly by government. However, as distinct from community and voluntary controlled schools, the governing body employs and appoints the school staff, with primary responsibility for admissions. The school land and buildings are owned by the governing body, or a Charitable Trust, in this case The Archbishop's School Trust. Parents and staff must be quite bemused at the abdication of responsibility by governors to appoint the headteacher, and by the letter to parents coming from a newly appointed  governor and not the chair. There are three parent governors one of whose appointment dates back to 2012, all of whom are GB appointments as no parents stood for office, quite a remarkable failure for a once popular church school.   The minimalistic school website makes no mention of recent events, the two item latest news dating back to December whilst the staffing page is apparently under construction (at the time of writing).  

A new substantive headteacher will be appointed by due process as the school is not an academy (academies appear to have the freedom to be able to recruit headteachers at short notice without going through normal procedures for a senior position in public services!).The successful candidate will certainly have a job to do given that two other local schools, Spires Academy and The Whitstable School both with long term troubled pasts, have recruited pupils much more strongly than Archbishop’s for 2019.

Read 6299 times Last modified on Sunday, 23 June 2019 19:54

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