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Sunday, 02 January 2022 18:12

Mask Wearing in Class and The Abbey School

Written by

I do hope that when the headteacher of The Abbey School in Faversham explains to the children of his school next week that they will have to wear masks in class this term, he has the courtesy to apologise to all those who were punished by his hitman for daring to wear masks last term, whilst all others were ordered not to do so, as reported in KentOnline. Unlike most secondary schools in the county which recognised children had endured a difficult time through two lockdowns, and needed to be supported, the Abbey adopted a very different approach and brought in one of a number of experts who style themselves 'the strictest headteacher in the country' to get tough with these recalcitrant children. As explained here, exclusions soared last year, exceptionally amongst all schools across the county, with Abbey subsequently introducing Mr Smith's 'Tough Love' approach after he was appointed to the school in September on a short term basis.

I have frequently written of the poor performance of Kent's Tough Love Schools, my original article being here, describing Ebbsfleet, Hartsdown, and  Oasis Isle of Sheppey academies, in 2017, demonstrating how the policy was failing all three schools. Since then there have been several further items, describing the 'progress' of  all three schools. All three featured at the top of the tables in my articles about high exclusions, children being taken out of school to be home educated, and a large number of Local Authority Allocations (children given place at the school, although they had not applied for it), along with other problems. In the case of Ebbsfleet, most recently here, the previous headteacher worked off her revenge on the parents who were apparently to blame for the school's failures. Since her departure, the culture of the school has changed completely, and I have heard none of the many concerns expressed previously. At Hartsdown the headteacher created a scene on his first day in post at the school gate in 2016 with his get tough policy, with a fuller analysis here.  However, somewhere along the line he appears to have had a Damascene conversion as described here, and in the past two years the school has changed completely and is starting to progress, like Ebbsfleet although the latter needed to change leader. The decision to scrap the proposed Park Crescent Academy also removes a strong threat to the school's revival. Oasis Isle of Sheppey has tried a different approach to improving matters, simply by simply changing leaders as described  here but, without the policy change  the school continues to struggle. 

Folkestone Academy also tried out a Tough Love Policy, after its takeover by Turner Schools in 2017 under its disastrous CEO, along with a rapidly changing cast of Principals, and scored a record 1211 exclusions in 2017-18, although coincidentally  this fell dramatically after I highlighted the scandal. However, standards continued to fall under Tough Love until Dr Saxton the CEO left to become a political adviser to the Secretary of State for Education, shortly followed by her promotion to become Regulator of OfQual, in spite of the sharp decline in performance under her leadership at Folkestone. 

When will they ever learn? Certainly parents are voting with their feet at The Abbey, with the number of first choice applications for places falling from 179 in 2019 before the current Principal was appointed, down to 124 for September 2021, in spite of pupil numbers rising sharply in Swale. There was also a record 23 LAAs. This controversy is hardly likely to have helped for 2022 entry.  



Last modified on Saturday, 12 March 2022 20:18


  • Comment Link Friday, 13 May 2022 11:11 posted by Elma Davis

    I guess school should look into this and take the matter seriously. There seems to serious lacking from authorities and the governors. As Kent CV writer I definitely wish to see a positive growth in the schools with better policies. PETER: I am not sure this works as an advertisement for your CV writing skills!

  • Comment Link Monday, 03 January 2022 12:26 posted by Sarah K

    Unbelievable. Where were the governors?

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