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Displaying items by tag: academy

The following item served the basis for an article in KOS on 11 June 2011, and also triggered the front page news story.

A Freedom of Information request I submitted has revealed a number of alarming features in the pattern of permanent exclusions (expulsions) in Kent schools.

The first two new style academies created in Kent top the list of permanent exclusions between September and Easter, headed by Westlands School in Sittingbourne with 11. Next is Canterbury High School with nine permanent exclusions.

Both these schools previously had outstanding Ofsted reports, so it is difficult to believe they have difficult disciplinary problems.

Other schools with high numbers of permanent exclusions over this period are: Chaucer Technology School, also in Canterbury (nine); Hartsdown Technology College (converting to an academy – eight) and the Marlowe Academy both in Thanet (seven); and Astor College for the Arts in Dover (seven).

The total over this period is rising alarmingly already being almost the same as for the whole of 2009-10.

In general, an excluded child does not just go away, they are moved to another school to be given a fresh chance but, as this will usually be one of the few with vacancies in the area, it just heaps the problems on a possibly struggling school.

Of particular concern is the number of children  with statements of special education needs (SEN) who continue to be permanently excluded, in spite of government policy that “schools should avoid permanently excluding pupils with statements, other than in the most exceptional circumstances”.

While I don’t yet have figures for this year, in 2009-10 out of a total of 168 secondary exclusions 22 were of statemented children, a further 68 being of other children with SEN, together over half of the total.

However, the most astonishing and alarming statistic in this whole survey is that nearly all of the 34 Kent primary school exclusions in the last school year were of children with Special Education Needs, with 13 statemented children and another 18 with SEN.


So much for Kent. Meanwhile up in Medway there is a remarkably different picture. The council reports that there were just three permanent exclusions from Medway Secondary Schools in 2009-10 (none statemented), and none from primary schools. For 2010-11 the reported figure is currently zero, although Medway Council has subsequently claimed it is unaware of at least three permanent exclusions from Bishop of Rochester Academy, even though it would have responsibility for those children, so this figure needs to be treated with some caution.


This all begs many questions. Firstly, why are the pictures in Kent and Medway so very different?

Medway may only have around one sixth of the children being educated in Kent, but this does not come close to explaining why some Kent schools resort to formal exclusion proceedings so often, whereas Medway can avoid a dramatic, stressful and bureaucratic process so effectively.

Medway schools have always co-operated well over what are called ‘managed moves’ to a fresh school, although whether this will continue when all are independent academies remains to be seen.

How can Kent primary schools exclude children with statements in such numbers, compared to a negligible number of children without special needs, in direct contradiction to the government imperative that this should only happen in exceptional circumstances?

Why does Kent but not Medway have so many exceptional circumstances?

Once again KCC is seeing children who surely deserve the highest standard of care, at the bottom of the pile (see last week’s Kent on Sunday).

Another factor to add to KCC’s Scrutiny Committee investigation into primary school standards.

What is special about Westlands and Canterbury High apart from the fact they are outstanding Ofsted schools, that they need to take this extreme action, effectively forcing these children to less popular and successful schools, whereas others, often in far more difficult situations, appear to be able to manage better? Are they showing the future for academies?

What happens to the schools that become ‘dumping grounds’ for children excluded by other schools better able to cope with them?

Above all, why does KCC not look at Medway’s procedures to learn how to improve these dreadful figures?

Published in Newspaper Articles
Thursday, 02 June 2011 00:00

Complaints about Academies

National and local data for 2019/20. You will find the article from which it is drawn, here

Complaints to the DfE/ESFA about Admission Appeals to Academies and Free Schools 1st August 2019 to 31st July 2020
  National Kent Medway
1) How many complaints have been made about maladministration of appeals to academies and Free Schools for admission 104 16 3
2) For how many complaints was there maladministration that the EFA/ESFA considers may have caused injustice? 9 1 0
3) For how many complaints was there maladministration that the EFA/ESFA does not consider to have caused an injustice? 13 2 0
4) For how many complaints was there no maladministration? 76 4 3
5) How many complaints are outstanding? 6 0 0


The following table gives a breakdown of the data for complaints to the EFA about Academy and Free School Appeals for the two years, 2015-2017. You will find an article expanding on these figures here.   

Complaints to the EFA about Academy
and Free School Appeals
  National  Kent Medway
   15-16 16-17 15-16 16-17  15-16  16-17
 227  234  25  21  3 4
 14  6  o  o  0  0
without Injustice
 21  15  0  1  1  0
 133  164


 18  2


 0  33   0  2  0  1

You can see that success rates have halved since my previous data collection in 2011, below. 

A. Maladministration that the YPLA considers may have caused injustice.  Where this is the decision a fresh appeal is required to be heard by a different panel.

B. Maladministration that the YPLA does not consider to have caused injustice.  Where this is the decision no fresh appeal is required

C. No maladministration.


Total received

Decision Pending / Awaiting Further Info from parent or Clerk A* B* C* Parent Withdrew Complaint
National 107 16 7 3 78 3
Kent County Council Area 18 0 4 1 13 0
Medway Council Area 0 - - - - -

* Letters refer to decisions in previous paragraph.

Compared to Ombudsman decisions, there is a remarkably low proportion of successful complaints settled so far. Of course it may be that those where decisions are pending include a higher proportion of cases which may be settled in favour of the complainant.

By comparison, for 2010 entry, the Local Government Ombudsman heard 1403 school admission complaints nationally, fairly similar proportionately, given the number of schools involved. For Kent in 2010, there were 35 complaints to the Ombudsman about school admissions for county/community schools although the outcomes are not recorded. Kent foundation and voluntary aided schools produced 77 complaints of which 30 were the subject of local settlements (this means in general that the complaints were upheld with a fresh appeal or a recommendation to admit directly to the school), and in Medway, 6 out of 18 were upheld.

There thus appears to be a dramatic fall in the chances of success for complaints about academies, three possible reasons being as follows. Firstly, those still pending may produce a higher proportion of success, as they may be the subject of further investigation, but this would still leave the chances of success much lower. Secondly, the process of determining outcomes has significant differences. Normally in Ombudsman cases, there is discussion of the issues arising between the parties so that all have a chance to comment on the other's case. The complainant usually sees the appeal clerk's notes and the admission authority's comments on the case. he is then able to challenge any wrong information put forward. The Ombudsman issues a provisional view which either side can challenge and put forward further information. On the other hand, with the EFA, the academy gets to see the complaint, but the parent does not see their response - this is clearly unfair! There may be limited informal discussion, but the first real indication one has of the  outcome is the final decision. Thirdly, the Ombudsman website is packed with information and advice on complaints, backed up by a telephone support line. There is no such help available for complaints to the YPLA.  There is solely information on the address to send a complaint to. One of the massive frustrations reported by schools and parents alike, is the difficulty in contacting real people - telephone numbers all too often lead to message boards where no one answers!

I am happy to be corrected on any of the above views or information.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 00:00


Last updated  February 2021




A recent article 'Academy and Free School News February 2021', the latest in a series, contains much additional material. 

When I started this page ten years ago, it was a simple matter of record. As you read it, you will become aware it is now a very complicated set of data and I am only too happy to correct any errors or omissions that may have crept in. 

You will find another full list of every Academy arranged by Multi-Academy Trust, and Single Academy Trust and operating in Kent and Medway, hereLikewise the Free Schools page (although needing an update)

There is much more information about every Kent and Medway secondary school individually via the links.  

An academy is a school directly funded by the Department for Education and independent of direct control by local government in England. However local government Councils are responsible for the funding formulae used to allocate funds among sections of education within an authority. An Academy may receive additional support from personal or corporate sponsors, either financially or in kind, but must meet the same National Curriculum core subject requirements as other state schools and be subject to inspection by OfstedAcademies are self-governing and most are constituted as registered charities or operated by other educational charities. Government policy is to encourage all schools to become academies. Those regarded as the stronger can choose how they are governed (see below); those that are perceived to be underperforming or have failed an OFSTED Inspection come under considerable government pressure to become sponsored academies taken over by stronger schools or by one of the many flourishing Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs). They lease their premises from the government and set their own terms and conditions for teachers (Headteachers generally attracting considerably higher salaries than for other schools). 

Government has now blocked Local Authorities from setting up new schools, and these now have to be Free Schools which are also legally academies, or Voluntary Aided Faith Schools, although there are none of the latter in Kent or Medway. In the case of new Free Schools, the government provides the building costs and sponsors run the school. You will find a separate information article on Kent and Medway's Free Schools here, which now looks at all new schools.  

In Kent and Medway, academies are generally independent of the local authorities in most respects, although a few are directly sponsored by the Authorities (as far as I can see this just means they appoint a governor who does not necessarily report back, and have no other control). However, they all required to obey the same Admissions Code and are members of the Kent or Medway coordinated admissions scheme for all schools. As the two Local Authorities diversify into an increasingly splintered education provision under the academy programme, there are now many types of local model, as explained on the Multi-Academy Trust page

Currently, over three-quarters of Kent secondary schools, academies and free schools (79/101) are either academies or free schools, with another four having made a current application, all held up because of PFI issues). 42% of all Kent primaries (194/461) are academies or Free Schools, with another 12 officially in progress, although several approvals date back for some years. In Medway, 94% (16/17) of secondary schools are academies and 70% (52/79) of the primaries, along with four more in progress. There are two academy and two Free School Special School in Kent out of 23, and four out of five in Medway. Academies exist in either Stand-Alone Trusts (SAT) or Multi-Academy Trusts (MAT). There are currently 53 Kent and Medway academies in SATs or single school MATs, and  220 in other MATs, 20 of which are small units of two or three schools only. The three Trusts with the largest number of Kent and Medway schools are the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership with 26 schools, the Leigh Academy Trust with 25 schools and The Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust (Aquila)  with 20. Next comes TKAT with eleven. 

Old Style Academies
First up are the “old style” secondary academies. The rationale for these drawn up by the then Labour government was originally based on replacing failing schools in socially deprived urban areas, although this definition became stretched as governments sought to increase the number with, for example, the Knole Academy in Sevenoaks not qualifying on any of the three counts. The earliest academies have either been completely rebuilt or had plans approved to secure a rebuild on a very generous budget of the order of £30 million each, Isle of Sheppey Academy doing best with premises at a cost of £54 million. Those approved later have still been generously treated usually benefiting from a major rebuild, usually of £15 million or more. Most of these academies have main sponsors who have been given control of the institution for a donation of the order of £2 million, waived in the case of charities or churches. Old Style Academies are generally sponsored by a Multi-Academy Trust. 

The old style academies are: Brompton Academy, Gillingham (sponsored by University of Kent Academies Trust); Cornwallis Academy, Maidstone (Future Schools Trust); Dover Christ Church Academy (Canterbury Christ Church University);  The Duke of York's Royal Military School, Dover (fully boarding, previously Independent, with a tradition of admitting children of military families, associated with Dover Federation of the Arts); Folkestone Academy (all through, incorporating the previous Folkestone Primary Academy, now Turner Schools, previously sponsored by Roger De Haan); Isle of Sheppey Academy; The John Wallis C of E Academy Ashford (all through, incorporating the previous Linden Grove Primary School, Ashford);  The Knole Academy, Sevenoaks; Leigh Academy, Dartford (Leigh Academy Trust); Longfield Academy, Dartford (Leigh Academy Trust); The Marlowe Academy, Ramsgate, Kent's first, now part of Royal Harbour Academy; Marsh Academy, Romney Marsh (previously Tonbridge School, now Skinners Company); New Line Learning Academy, Maidstone, (Future Schools); Orchards Academy, Swanley (TKAT); St Augustine Academy, Maidstone; Strood Academy (Sponsored by University of Creative Arts); Skinners Kent Academy, Tunbridge Wells (Skinners Company); Spires Academy, Canterbury; Victory Academy, Chatham (Thinking Schools Academy Trust, previously Bishop of Rochester Academy, Rochester Anglican Diocese); and  Wilmington Academy, Dartford (Leigh Academy Trust).

Newer academies fall into two types: 'sponsored' and 'converter'. Both types of academy are able to bid for capital developments in competition with other schools under two categories: where numbers of children are expanding in the area; and where the school buildings are identified as in need of improvement. In neither case is it yet clear by what criteria these funds are awarded. In my opinion, certain academies attracted undue priority for their bids in the most recent capital allocations I have analysed. Many academies are expanding fast, including grammar schools.
Sponsored Academies and Free Schools (F)
The first type is the Sponsored Academies, often struggling schools taken over by more successful academy chains, although not all are underperforming and some have chosen to take up this arrangement. Alternatively and increasingly, they are new schools indicated by (F) in the list. Currently, the government is putting pressure on Local Authorities and school governing bodies in an attempt (almost wholly successful but often controversial) to force underperforming schools. into academy partnerships. There is no required public consultation for these takeovers and it is not until the decision is announced that one can be sure this is happening. Often there is great secrecy about the process. 

There is no pattern for these schools, but I have attempted to list the Multi Academy Trusts that operate in Kent and Medway with information about them and their other academies elsewhere in the county. I provide a summary list of the sponsored academies below, cross-check with the Multi Academy Trust groups page to find the sponsor.  

The sponsored academies are (in their academy groups here), including Free Schools denoted by (F):

Kent secondary schools
Charles Dickens School, Broadstairs; Ebbsfleet Academy (previously Swan Valley School);  Goodwin Academy (previously Castle Community College);  Hadlow Rural Community School (F);High Weald Academy (previously Angley School); The Lenham School, (previously Swadelands School); Maidstone School of Science and Technology (F); Meopham School; Orchards Academy (previously Swanley Technology College); Trinity School (F); School of Science and Technology Maidstone; St Edmund’s Catholic Secondary, Dover; Sittingbourne Community College; Stone Lodge (F); Wye School (F).

Medway secondary schools: Holcombe Grammar (previously Chatham Grammar for Boys); Hundred of Hoo Academy (5-19); Robert Napier; Waterfront UTC (previously Medway UTC) 

Kent primary schools:
Ashford:  Beaver Green Primary; Brenzett CofE; Chilmington Green Primary (F); Finberry Primary (F); Kennington CofE Juniors; Kingsnorth CofE; John Wallis Academy (Primary Section, previously Linden Grove).

Canterbury: Petham Primary;  Pilgrims Way Primary School and Nursery; Reculver CofE Primary 


Dartford: Cherry Orchard Primary Academy; Dartford Community Primary; Dartford Primary Academy (previously York Road Junior School and Language Unit, and St Alban's Primary); Ebbsfleet Green (F);  Knockhall Community; River Mill Primary (F); Westgate Primary.  

Dover:  Charlton CofE Primary; Water Meadows Primary School (previously Hersden Village); Temple Ewell Church of England Primary. 

Faversham: St Mary of Charity CofE (Aided) Primary School

Gravesham: Chantry Community AcademyCopperfield Academy (previously Dover Road Primary); Istead Rise Primary; Riverview Junior; Rosherville CofE Primary;  Springhead Park Primary (F); Tymberwood Academy (previously Raynehurst Primary School) 

Maidstone: Archbishop Courtney Primary; Barming Primary; Bearsted Primary Academy (F); Holy Family RC Primary; Jubilee Primary(F); Molehill Copse Primary; Oaks Academy (previously Oak Trees Community School); St Francis Catholic Primary (in progress); St James the Great Academy (previously St James the Great Primary Community and Nursery School); Tiger Primary (F); Treetops Academy (previously Bell Wood Community Primary School).

Malling: Aylesford Primary School; Valley Invicta Primary School at Holborough Lakes(Snodland, F) ; Valley Invicta Primary School at Kings Hill (F); Valley Invicta Primary School at Leybourne Chase (Maidstone, F)); St Katharine's Primary, Snodland


Shepway: Brenzett CofE; Lydd Primary; Folkestone Academy Primary (previously Park Farm Primary, then part of all through Folkestone Academy);  Martello Grove Primary, with SEN Unit; Morehall Primary; St Nicholas CofE, New Romney.

Sheppey:  St Edward's Catholic; Thistle Hill Academy; 

Sittingbourne: Kemsley Primary; Lansdowne Primary; Milton Court Primary; Richmond Primary; South Avenue Junior;  Sunny Bank Primary; Westlands Primary School

Swanley:  Horizon Primary School;

Thanet: Chilton Academy Primary School; Christ Church Church of England Junior School in Ramsgate; Cliftonville Primary; Dame Janet Primary Academy (previously Dame Janet Infant & Junior Schools); Drapers Mill Primary School, Margate; Newlands Primary, Northdown Primary; Ramsgate Free (F); St Laurence in Thanet Church of England Junior School;  & Salmestone Primary.,

Tonbridge: Bishop Chavasse Primary (F); Cage Green Primary; Royal Rise Academy (previously St Stephen's Primary)

Tunbridge Wells: Skinners' Kent Primary School; Temple Grove Academy, (previously Sherwood Park Community Primary School); The Wells Free School (F).  

Medway primary schools:
Allhallows Primary School; Byron Primary; Cedar Children's Academy; Cuxton Community Junior; Deanwood Primary; Elaine Primary Academy; Featherby Junior; High Halstow Primary; Gordon Infant and Junior (operating as Gordon Schools Federation); Kingfisher Community Primary; Lordswood Primary; Maundene School; Napier Community Primary & Nursery, Gillingham; New Horizons Children's Academy, Chatham; Oasis Academy Skinner Street; Phoenix Junior Academy (previously Glencoe Junior School); Saxon Way Primary Academy; St James Church of England Primary Academy, Isle of Grain; St Margaret's CofE Junior; Temple Mill Primary; Twydall Primary; Warren Wood Community Primary & Language Unit.
Special Schools
Aspire School, Sittingbourne (F); Inspire Special Free, Medway (F); Snowfields Academy, Maidstone (F).
Sponsored Academies in Development
You will find further information on the PFI obstacles to academisation here
 Aylesford School (PFI); Gravesend Central School (F);  Holmesdale School, Snodland (PFI);  Royal Harbour Academy (Coastal Academies Trust, PFI); Chapelfield Primary (F), Maidstone; Conningbrook CofE Primary (F), Ashford ; St Francis Catholic Primary, Maidstone (Kent Catholic Schools Partnership); West Kingsdown CofE VC (Rochester Diocesan Board).
 Converter Academies
Secondary SAT: The Abbey, Faversham;  Borden Grammar, Sittingbourne; Brockhill Park Performing Arts College, Hythe; Chatham & Clarendon Grammar School, Ramsgate; Cranbrook School; Dartford Grammar; Dartford Grammar Girls; Folkestone School for Girls; The Harvey Grammar, Folkestone; Herne Bay High School; Highsted Grammar, Sittingbourne; Highworth Grammar, Ashford; Hillview, Tonbridge; The Maplesden Noakes, Maidstone; Mayfield Grammar (previously Gravesend Grammar Girls); The Norton Knatchbull, Ashford; Oakwood Park Grammar, Maidstone; Queen Elizabeth's Grammar, Faversham; Sandwich Technology; Sir Roger Manwood's, Sandwich;  Tonbridge Grammar; Towers, Kennington. 

Secondary MAT: Astor College for the Arts; Barton Court Grammar, Canterbury; Bennett Memorial Diocesan School, Tunbridge Wells; The Canterbury High; Cornwallis, Maidstone;  Dane Court Grammar School, Broadstairs; Fulston Manor, Sittingbourne; Gravesend Grammar; Hayesbrook, Tonbridge; Hartsdown Technology College, Margate; Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre, Tenterden; Invicta Grammar, Maidstone;  King Ethelbert's, Westgate; Mascalls, Paddock Wood; St Anselm's Catholic, Canterbury; Saint George's Church of England, Gravesend;  St Gregory's Catholic Comprehensive, Tunbridge Wells, St Simon Stock Catholic Maidstone; The Skinners', Tunbridge Wells; Stone Lodge School, Dartford; Ursuline Convent, Westgate -on-Sea; Valley Park, Maidstone; Weald of Kent Grammar, Tonbridge; Westlands, Sittingbourne; Wilmington Grammar Boys; Wilmington Grammar Girls; Wrotham.

Medway: Chatham Grammar School for Girls (S);  Fort Pitt Grammar School (M); Greenacre School (M); Howard School, Gillingham (M);Rainham Mark Grammar School (M); Rainham School for Girls (M); Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School (M); The Rochester Grammar School (M); The Thomas Aveling School (M); and Walderslade Girls School (S)

Ashford:  Adisham CofE Primary (M); Charing CofE Primary (M); Furley Park Primary (M); Godinton Primary (S); Hamstreet Primary (M); Kingsnorth CofE Primary(M); Pluckley CofE Primary (M); Rolvenden Primary (M); Smarden Primary(M); St Michael's CofE Primary (Tenterden)(M); St Simon of England RC(M); Tenterden Infant(M): Tenterden CofE Junior(M)

Canterbury: Canterbury Primary(M)Hampton Primary (S); St Stephen's Junior(S); Sturry CofE Primary(M)

Cranbrook and Weald: Horsmonden Primary (M); Paddock Wood Primary (M); Brenchley and Matfield Primary(M);

Dartford: The Brent Primary (M); Gateway Primary(M); Greenlands Primary (previously Darenth Community Primary)(M); Hartley Primary Academy(M); Joydens Wood Infant (S); Joydens Wood Junior (S); Manor Community Primary, Swanscombe(M); Oakfield Community(M)Our Lady of Hartley Catholic Primary(M); River Mill Primary (M); Temple Hill Community (M); Stone St Mary's CofE(M); Wentworth Primary(S); Sutton at Hone CofE(M)Wilmington Primary (S); West Hill Primary(M).

Dover, Deal and Sandwich: Barton Junior(M)St Joseph’s Catholic Primary (Aylesham)(M); Deal Parochial CofE(M); The Downs CofE(M); Hornbeam Primary, Deal(M)Kingsdown and Ringwould CofE, Deal (M); Priory Fields(M); Northbourne CofE Primary(M)St Martin's(M); St Mary's Catholic Primary(M)Sandown School(M); Sholden CofE Primary(M)Shatterlocks Infant(M); Vale View Community(M); Warden House Primary, Deal(M); Whitecliffs Primary College of the Arts(M);

Faversham, Herne Bay, Whitstable:  Briary Primary (M); Bysingwood Primary (M); Graveney Primary (S); Luddenham (S); St Mary's Catholic (Whitstable)(M); Selling Primary(M)

Folkestone and Hythe: Christ Church Cof E Primary (S); Dymchurch Primary(M); Folkestone Primary (M); St Eanswythe's CofE Primary (S); St Mary's CofE Primary(S); Stella Maris Catholic Primary(M).

Gravesham:  Culverstone Green Primary(M)Holy Trinity VA Primary, Gravesend (M);  Meopham Community Academy (previously Meopham Primary School)(M); Riverview Infants(M); Shorne CofE Primary(M); St Botolph's Church of England VA Primary(M); St John's Catholic Primary(S); St Joseph's Catholic Primary School(M); Westcourt Primary(M); Whitehill Primary(M); Wrotham Road(M).

Maidstone: Allington Primary(M); Coxheath Primary(M); Loose Primary(M); Marden (M); St John's CofE Primary School(S); South Borough Primary(M); Valley Invicta at Eastborough(M). 

Malling: Leybourne St Peter & St Paul CofE, VA(M); More Park Primary(M); St Mark's CofE, Eccles (M); West Malling CofE Primary and Language Unit (S).

Sevenoaks: Amherst School (S); St Thomas Catholic Primary(M). 

Sheppey:  Eastchurch CofE (M); Halfway Houses(M)Minster in Sheppey(M); St George’s CofE Primary(M); Queenborough (M).

Sittingbourne & Rural Swale: Bobbing Village(M); Borden CofE(S); Bredgar CofE(M); Grove Park Junior(M); Holywell Primary (M);  Iwade Community Primary(M); Lynsted and Norton Primary(M); Milstead and Frinsted Church of England Primary School(M); Minterne Community Junior(M); Oaks Community Infant(M); Regis Manor Community Primary(M); Sheldwich Primary(S); South Avenue Infant(M); Westlands Primary(M).

Swanley: Horton Kirby CofE(M). 

 Thanet: Chilton Primary, Ramsgate,(M); St Gregory's Catholic Primary, Margate(M); St Joseph's Catholic Primary, Broadstairs(M); Upton Junior, Broadstairs(M). 

Tonbridge:  Chiddingstone Primary (S); St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Primary(M).

Tunbridge Wells: St Augustine's Catholic Primary(M).

Primary academies in Medway, all MATS: All Faiths' Children's Community Primary, Strood; All Saints CofE Primary, Chatham; Balfour Junior Academy; Barnsole Primary; Bligh Infant and Junior Schools; Brompton-Westbrook Primary; Chattenden Primary; Castle Academy, Rochester (previously Delce Junior); Cliffe Woods Primary;  Cuxton Community Infants;  Deanwood Primary;  Featherby Infant and Nursery; Halling Primary; High Halstow  Primary; Hilltop Primary; Hoo St Werburgh Primary; Maundene School; Miers Court Primary;  Oaklands School; The Pilgrim School; Riverside Primary; St John's Cof E Infant; St Margaret's at Troy Town CofE VC Primary;St Margaret's Infant, Rainham; Stoke Community Primary; Thames View Primary; Wainscott Primary; Walderslade Primary; Wayfield Community Primary & Nursery; Woodlands Primary, Gillingham; 

 Special schools: 
 Milestone Special School, New Ash Green, (M). And in Medway: Bradfields Academy, Chatham (M); Danecourt Community Special School, Gillingham (M); Rivermead  School, Gillingham, (M); The Rowans (Pupil Referral Unit).
Converter Academy applications in progress
Schools with applications in progress are: North School (2010!), Ashford; 

Bean Primary (2018), Dartford; Bethersden Primary (2018); Chartham Primary, Canterbury; Fleetdown Primary, Dartford; Lamberhurst St Mary's CofE; Mundella Primary, Folkestone; Roseacre Junior, Maidstone;  St Ethelbert's Catholic Primary, Ramsgate (approved 2013); St Stephen's Infants, Canterbury; Sandwich InfantsWorth Primary, Deal.

In Medway:  Park Wood Infant and Junior Schools; Fairview Primary (but see latest article). 

Several schools that applied for Academy status appear to have withdrawn their applications as they no longer feature on the government database of Applications. I would be happy to receive further information on these schools. They are: Borough Green Primary School; Bromstone Primary School, Broadstairs; Lady Boswell's CofE VA Primary, Sevenoaks; Oakfield Community, Dover; Riverhead Infants (Sevenoaks); Sandgate Primary, Shepway; St Mary's Catholic, Canterbury; St Richard’s Catholic Primary School, Dover;

Final Thoughts 
For me, the major concerns are the two-tier financial structure being created and a lack of accountability. The threat to a failing school was that it would be closed and turned into an academy. What happens to a failing academy (they do exist and numbers will inevitably increase)? Against this, there is no doubt that academies are raising the status of many schools, and some are notable successes. The myth of higher standards can be seen from research quoted by the admittedly partisan Anti-Academies Alliance. Sadly this does not appear to create as many headlines as the vast pro-academy public relations exercise mounted by government amongst others.

The concern over lack of accountability sees parents unhappy with provision finding it very difficult or impossible to get satisfaction, for the local authority does not have responsibility for the internal running of Academies, and Department of Education processes can often appear impenetrable. The Local Government Ombudsman has no role in complaints about academies or appeals for admission or permanent exclusion, as they do not come under the aegis of local authorities. For complaints about academy admission appeals see my website article here. The correct route for complaints about academies is via the DofE. You will find the procedure here.  Oddly, the DfE website recommends a private charity, Coram Children's Legal Centre for legal advice about such matters.  I have no information about this charity other than what is on their website. 

Parents who send their children to academies need to understand the issues, although for most it may well be the best or only option available, and a very positive experience.

Tagged under
Thursday, 18 November 2010 00:28

The Irony of the failing Marlowe Academy

Today, Michael Gove has announced that schools with 'Good' OFSTED Reports can apply to become Academies. Historically, Academies were failing schools that by changing to become Academies, by some alchemy suddenly become a good schools (or is it the resources that do it!). What then happens to failing academies? For today, a published OFSTED Report for the Marlow Academy, Ramsgate, serves it with a 'Notice to Improve' - that is to say, the Academy is failing!

Published in News Archive
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 18:14

Academies: KOS Jan 2010

Kent and Medway secondary schools have suffered from a historically low level of investment into school buildings. However, in recent years there has been a transformation of many premises to produce school buildings of which we can be proud, a tribute to the investment policies of Kent and Medway councils.


With programmes such as Private Finance Investment (6 schools) and Building Schools for the Future (10 schools underway), the pace of redevelopment is increasing in line with the target of replacing all Kent secondary schools in the next 12 years. These two initiatives rely heavily on private finance, which needs to make a profit, and so they face uncertain financial futures in terms of running costs. What happens at the end of the borrowing term? What about the current difficult financial climate?


However, as each new school flourishes, alongside it there is too often a school that is not so fortunate, often which has worked hard to achieve high standards, that then suffers by comparison. An unfair world, where many children benefit while others are at good schools that go into decline.


Academies are in a different programme and are the flavour of the day, bringing much-needed funds from government to build plush new premises, often on fresh sites. They also need to attract sponsors who often put up a small proportion of the total costs, and are independent of the local authority, controlled by the sponsors. Church and university sponsors no longer need to invest funds.


Increasingly local authorities are also minority sponsors. Between them, University of Kent at Canterbury, Christchurch University Canterbury, and the University of Creative Arts are minority sponsors of most local academies.


City academies were originally designed to replace failing schools in socially deprived urban areas, but the concept is changing fast and now even some prestigious independent schools, fallen on hard times are becoming academies in other parts of the country. Already the 17 open and planned Academies make up one in seven of all Kent and Medway schools. Academies do not need to follow the national curriculum, and all students at new Academies start off with free uniforms. So far there is no convincing evidence that they raise standards, although many often do well, some by attracting more able pupils. Others (not in Kent) have been spectacular failures.


I consider that Kent has generally used the concept well, attracting investment into the county and maintaining a level of influence that is lacking in some academies elsewhere. However, local authorities are required to have less than 20 per cent of the voting power on the board of governance of an academy.  Parents are not represented on all governing bodies but can have an influence through parent councils.


Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) statistics for permanent exclusions 2007/8 show the rate of permanent exclusion is twice as high for academies as in council-maintained schools. This confirms that one reason for academy ‘success’ may be their capacity to move ‘problem children’ out into other neighbouring schools - which suffer as a consequence.


I am starting to receive reports underlining one of the main drawbacks of city academies – lack of accountability. Parents unhappy with provision are finding it impossible to get satisfaction and the local authority does not have responsibility for the internal running of Academies. The Local Government Ombudsman has no role, as they do not come under the aegis of local authorities. The correct route is via the DFCS. As yet I have no experience of these, but have followed other education complaints through to the government and have found this to be generally a frustrating, drawn out and negative experience.


Parents who send their children to academies need to understand the risks, although for most it may well be the best option available and a very positive experience.

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The BSF (Building Schools for the Future) project was conceived nationally as a series of annual waves of building programmes and has just been scrapped, with all new projects being cancelled. Kent has 16 Academies in existence or planned, some o fwhich have also seen their building projects delayed with an expectation of budget cuts. In addition Kent has seen six schools rebuilt under PFI schemes. This article on my website was linked to a KOS report about the cancellation of Building Schools for the Future.

Kent was first involved in Wave 3 of BSF. Schools are planned to be completely rebuilt under PFI (Private Finance Initiative) funding schemes, subject to a major rebuild from Government grant, or else receive substantial refurbishment again from direct Government grant.

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A full list of the schools affected with their designations is here.

Headteachers at 28 Kent secondary schools, 8 Special Schools and 4 Referral Centres were devastated on Monday to learn that the plans to rebuild their schools under the Building Schools for the Future programme had been scrapped. The vast number of hours spent by heads and governors in negotiating with architects and officials are wasted. The many hours of planning by staff to develop new methods for teaching and learning using opportunities created by purpose designed premises will be consigned to the scrapheap. Some of the Special Schools are required to admit children with complex physical and learning needs, but will now find it impossible to cater for these unless alternative funding can be found. Also spare a thought for KCC officers who have worked tirelessly through the mass of red tape imposed on them, to try and ensure the best for our schools.

For the following schools in Thanet - Clarendon House Grammar, Chatham House Grammar, Foreland Special, Hartsdown Technology College, Hereson, Laleham Gap (Special), Northwood Centre, St Anthony's (Special), Stone Bay (Special) and Ursuline College; and in Gravesend - Gravesend Boys & Girls Grammars,  Meopham, and St George's CE ,along with Portal House (Special) in Dover, the shock was so much greater. For in these schools building plans have nearly all been finalised and construction due to begin in the near future. They will now have to compete for students with the gleaming new premises of those schools who have benefited from BSF. Hartsdown is not alone in Thanet in having very poor buildings and now little prospect of these being eased. 8 newer Academies already operational or in the planning stage whose replacement buildings have not begun (at an average cost of some 40% more than mainstream schools), are to have any plans reviewed in the summer. It would, however, be bizarre if many of these were upheld, as new Academies converting from mainstream schools join them on an equal basis in September with no prospect of new buildings.

This is a sorry end to a project that promised so much. However, it is important to realise what has been achieved. Paul Carter, KCC Leader has taken a personal interest in attracting maximum capital expenditure to Kent, which historically had low levels of investment in school buildings. His drive and vision means we now have new schools worth some half a billion pounds, either completed or in construction. These include all other secondary and Special Schools in Gravesham and Thanet through BSF (most of which are close to completion), 9 Academies, and 6 secondary schools built under separate PFI funding.  Parents in many parts of Kent will be aware of other major investments in new or replacement buildings for schools of all types. Whatever the future holds, these remain and nearly 20% of secondary schools will have been completely or substantially rebuilt; an impressive record of investment in the future of our children.

I saw a few of the complications of BSF as a Governor of Ifield Special School, the first Kent school to be completed with BSF funding. Because of the special nature of our project, involvement with bureaucracy was mainly limited to agreeing contracts for ICT equipment and services. Three governors spent innumerable hours grappling with details of complex documents and requirements to meet impossible deadlines (we are of course all unpaid volunteers). The headteacher and senior staff spent much greater time. However we did have the satisfaction of seeing our work come to completion. What about those governors who see their work junked? Sadly a few will walk away in disgust, never to return. What about children whose education has suffered, as heads and staff have had long periods of absence dealing with BSF issues? That cannot be restored. It would have been good to see Michael Gove acknowledge this labour and sacrifice.

Whether this dramatic purge was necessary in full is for others to pronounce on. I only know it must be wrong to put part of the proceeds towards the bribe to persuade mainstream schools to become academies themselves, with another portion going to start up free schools that will often be set up to suit self-interest groups who have little interest in the education of the majority.

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