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Friday, 27 February 2015 20:55

AET loses Maidstone Academies to Leigh Academy Trust: Monopoly winners and losers

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I have frequently covered the failings of the three Maidstone primary academies run by the Academies Enterprise Trust on the pages of this website. At last there are signs of relief for the poor families whose children are forced to attend one of Molehill Primary Academy, Oaks Primary Academy and Tree Tops Primary Academy as they are taken away from AET control and transferred to the Leigh Academy Trust, currently Kent’s most successful academy chain, on 1st March.

All three schools have been failed by OFSTED in the past few years, an article I wrote in January 2014 being entitled: “Is this the worst school in the country, run by the worst academy chain? - Tree Tops Academy”. An update on the fate of the three schools followed in September. AET, the largest Academy chain in the country, is currently banned from taking on any new academies and received a highly critical letter from OFSTED, following the focused inspection of 12 of its 71 schools (OFSTED is currently not allowed to inspect academy chains directly), in September.……

At present, Molehill has been judged to have Serious Weaknesses by OFSTED, Tree Tops is in Special Measures, with Oaks, the only bright spot, having a Good rating, after KCC saw it into Special Measures, then up to Satisfactory and after further raising of standards, it was assessed as Good shortly after being taken over by AET.  

That just leaves St James the Great Academy in East Malling with AET, which enjoyed a Good OFSTED rating in April 2014 and are clearly happy with the support they have received from AET. AETs only other venture into Kent was a disastrous year ‘supporting’ The Marlowe Academy in 2011. The county is well rid of (almost) the chain that has damaged the education of too many children.

The Leigh Academy Trust will now have eleven academies, six in North West Kent. Of the latter, three enjoy Outstanding OFSTED’s (Hartley Primary, Leigh, and Milestone Special), two Good (Longfield and Wilmington – both previously troubled), and one Requires Improvement (York Road Junior, up from Special Measures). The Group has recently become a joint sponsor for the Stationers’ Crown Woods Academy in Eltham and has set up Kent’s first University Technical College in Dartford, the Leigh UTC. The press release invites other schools to join them “on this journey to help design and lead a ‘cluster’ of academies in Central Kent which are shaping lives and transforming communities”. This is surely an invitation designed to tempt other Maidstone schools to look that way, the district having had the worst OFSTED record in the county over recent years, admittedly dragged down by these three schools.  

In passing, the press release also records that David Simons, Principal of Cornwallis Academy, within the Future Schools Trust,  signals both multi-academy trusts’ intention to work closely together from now on. Academy monopoly continues, with several take-overs in Medway to come. 

Read 6594 times Last modified on Monday, 02 March 2015 21:59

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