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Saturday, 21 November 2020 18:37

Griffin Schools Trust in Further Trouble

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Back in August, I wrote an article entitled 'Griffin Schools Trust: A Danger for Pupils?' about the Trust and one of its schools, Stantonbury International School in Milton Keynes. The school was at one time the second-largest in the country but has lost nearly a fifth of its pupil numbers since being taken over by Griffin.  The school had been placed in Special Measures in January following an absolutely disgraceful report by Ofsted which opens with: 'Many pupils do not feel safe attending this school. They feel intimidated by others’ conduct. Pupils are right to be concerned. Leaders have not been effective in managing pupils’ behaviour. It is increasingly rowdy and sometimes dangerous' and then gets worse.

Publication of the Report was delayed until June probably because of Covid. Subsequently, in view of the Ofsted finding which found the leadership and management, behaviour and attitudes and the quality of education at the Academy all inadequate, the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC)  sent a Minded to Terminate Letter to the Trust on 15th July. This spelt out that she 'needed to be satisfied that the Academy can achieve rapid and sustained improvement'. Clearly, the Trust response to this was also inadequate to the extent that the RSC issued a Termination Warning Notice six weeks later, on 28th August. It almost beggars belief that, even when the Trust was given warning of the RSC urgent requirements in the Minded to Terminate letter it failed so abysmally to meet them, as set out explicitly in the warning notice. This even followed two responses from the Trust to the RSC, the first being obviously inadequate as set out in the Warning. The incompetences included  'There has been a failure to "address the systemic failures in leadership, accountability, governance and monitoring" or to demonstrate how trust leadership would be improved'. although the arrogance that runs through the academy website suggests one of the inherent problems, as exemplified by my previous article.

The Warning Notice also outlines in stark terms the failures of Leadership across the Trust, which includes two other seriously underperforming secondary schools and three local Medway primary schools: Kingfisher, Lordswood and Saxon Way.

There remains the mystery of why this letter of 28th August only surfaced two weeks ago but clearly, there has been further negotiation continuing although why after so many serious and multiple failures did the RSC not conclude its attempts and draw a line under them.  The BBC Report continues the saga as it records that: 'The DfE said the trust had responded to the warning notice and the regional school commissioner was investigating'. 'A trust spokesman said: "The trust's understanding from the regional school commissioner was that no final decision to rebroker the school to another sponsor had been confirmed."' It is unclear what further needs to be investigated when surely the only proper action should be to close down the Trust and transfer its schools to another operator, as happened locally with the Lilac Sky and Schools Company trusts. However, given that two years on government can give no indication when promised financial investigations into those two Trusts will be concluded, perhaps this is yet again just a delaying tactic by a Government Department with a catastrophic record itself. Alternatively, they can find no one else willing and able to take on such a basket case. 

In the meantime, the Trust continues to describe a fantasy school on its website, well worth exploring, in the context of the above.

Excerpt from Stantonbury Website - Motto 'Dare to Know'
We are a proud family member of the Griffin Schools Trust, and as such our vision is underpinned by our three pillars which are Proud Traditions, Wide Horizons and High Achievement. We seek to provide the conditions in which children learn and thrive through curiosity and fun whilst developing a sense of responsibility, leadership and service. Our focus is on providing an enriching and nurturing experience for all of our learners so that they go on to become fulfilled and responsible global thinkers and future leaders. We share the Trust’s conviction that great schools are built on a broad enrichment programme and high-quality pastoral care, as well as an inspiring curriculum, expertly taught. Stantonbury International School is an exciting place for learning and creativity and where parents, staff, and students can work in partnership to achieve success. We warmly invite you to become part of this wonderful and dynamic community.

You will find recent articles about the Trust also covering this latest failure by the BBC, Education Uncovered and Schools Week (page 11), all taking their own slant on the scandal, but going down different paths to my original article. This looked in some detail at the backgrounds of the four leaders of The Griffin Trust, several of whom have done very well financially out of their positions. Surely this is a good time for them to move on and pass the schools on to a body that is competent, cares and knows how to turn round failing schools.   

P.S. Earlier today I received an email from a Medway resident with more information to provide me on this matter. Unfortunately, the email address they have provided is not valid. Please feel free to try again. 

Read 1181 times Last modified on Monday, 23 November 2020 00:21

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