The Anti Academies Alliance is reporting increased resistance to enforced academisation, as typified by Twydall Primary School in Gillingham. The school was placed in Special Measures by OFSTED back in March and has had two critical OFSTED Monitoring Reports since then, although Key Stage 2 results in the summer were good. The headteacher resigned shortly after the second Monitoring Inspection, the Chairman of Governors having resigned earlier, both actions appearing to free up governors to take positive actions to improve the school in their efforts to take it out of Special Measures.
The Governing Body has since been the centre of much activity, as Medway Council is attempting to impose the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT), headed up by The Rochester Grammar School and All Faiths Children’s Community Primary school, as sponsors. It appears that governors are not unhappy with the concept of becoming a sponsored academy, but are increasingly resistant to this being TSAT. Allegations that two members of the Governing Body who have now resigned, had conflicts of interest with TSATs involvement, the replacement Chairman also facing controversy over his role, have not helped.
The arrival of an Interim Headteacher, Mrs Ann Pratt, with an excellent record and clear ideas for turning the school round appears to have had a very positive effect on the school, along with a more united and focused governance, which is now very open with parents about its activities, including a full written consultation, about academisation. The Governing Body section of the school website is a model of its kind, including copies of GB Minutes, and indeed the whole website now projects a very transparent and positive image of the school. A Facebook page about the consultation contains some very frank comments about perceptions of TSAT……
In the run up to the governors’ vote about becoming a sponsored academy with TSAT there have been two meetings of parents with members of the Trust. The first was not easy, the second one reported to be almost confrontational between the Trust and the 70 or so parents that attended. Governors will now consider the results of the Consultation to inform them before their vote
However, the most recent development is almost bizarre. The Executive Headteacher of the Gordon Schools Federation in Chatham since March 2014, has been appointed as a class teacher to Twydall Primary from the start of this term. He was previously Assistant Headteacher at the small one form entry All Faiths' and was certainly handed a challenge, being required to run the Federation of two separate schools, each with two classes per year, as it joined TSAT, including reversing the Junior School’s ‘Serious Weaknesses’ inadequate assessment by OFSTED the previous year. The Gordon Schools Federation website makes clear that TSAT has now removed him, just nine months later (together with sacking the Governing Body), from the school because the pace of improvement needs to accelerate. The departing Chair of Governors had also been appointed a governor of Twydall and was one of the two who resigned over the conflict of interest issue. TSAT must be seriously worried about current standards at the Federation to take this drastic double action, although the appointment of the inexperienced Executive Head undoubtedly contributed to the problem.
As far as the Gordon Federation is concerned, their new Executive Headteacher is Mrs Lesley Ann Jones, who has excellent experience in running of schools, with a senior OFSTED background, so it looks as if they have made a very strong appointment this time round.