Controversial from the start, Mr Millar triggered an article in The Times in which he was reported as alleging at a Conference that Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academy had been described by a DfE official as the “worst school in England” before he took over. This was a description that quite rightly had to be withdrawn, as the school was already improving rapidly before he took over, having seen improved GCSE results and being taken out of Special Measures a few months earlier by the previous Principal, but who had been removed following the arrival of Oasis in September 2013. Clearly the Academy Trust priority to improve the Academy was not that great as Mr Millar only needed to work part-time in Sheppey until the summer of 2014, dividing his time with his previous school, which he is also reported to have described with similar comments on his arrival there. As a result he has given less than two years full time service to Sheppey.
Fortunately, under the previous Principal, key decisions such as the removal of TWO Executive Headteacher posts (!) working under him, a staff restructuring, the improvement of standards to deliver a much improved GCSE performance and the way the new buildings were brought into being had all been carried out.
The Kent Messenger article describing the announcement of his departure comes with a number of parental and staff comments describing reaction to his management style and departure, but also quotes local M.P. Gordon Henderson as having been ‘reassured the school would be able to find a good replacement and improve further in the future’. Given the poor standards, the reported problems in the school, and the difficulties with attracting good leaders in other schools around Kent’s coast, one can only hope this confident reassurance is correct with Oasis this time round recognising that a full-time Principal is an absolute necessity from the start. He or she would be the fifth Principal since the Academy opened in 2011, following a tumultuous time under previous leaderships as a Local Authority school. Sheppey children deserve much better than the education they have been provided under KCC and two sets of Academy sponsors.
Sadly, Oasis’s record locally is not one to inspire faith in the reassurance, given the precipitous way they closed down Oasis Hextable Academy last year without warning, the disaster of Oasis Academy Skinner Street in Gillingham, served with a notice of closure if the school failed to improve and the aborted sponsorship of the new primary academy on Sheppey, perhaps because of the risk of the failure of Isle of Sheppey sticking to it.
Ironically, David Day, the previous Principal who was subsequently appointed headteacher of Hayesbrook School in Tonbridge, has led this school to its best GCSE results ever at 61% 5 A-Cs, the highest performance of a non-selective school in the county, apart from three highly selective church schools, but this has not saved his job. Reaching the end of his contract, this has not been renewed and a new headteacher has been brought in to replace him by the Brook Academy Trust.