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Wednesday, 05 June 2019 22:57

Academy and Free School News: June 2019


UPDATE: Government has approved Chilmington Green Secondary Academy in Ashford, a new school sponsored by United Learning which also runs the private Ashford School and Wye Free School. 

This article looks at Academy and Free School news in Kent and Medway since September.

The biggest story is surely the mass conversion of seven Deal primary schools to become converter academies in the Deal Education Alliance for Learning Trust (DEALT), taking the proportion of Kent primary academies, and those still in the pipeline to over 40%. The other two Deal primary schools are already academised. Just two other primary schools have converted, Greenlands in Dartford and Halling in Medway. The new Chilmington Green Primary School in Ashford is fully opening in September, as are Stone Lodge School and River Mill Primary School in Dartford, whilst St George’s CofE Comprehensive in Gravesham is opening a primary section. The new Alkerden School is opening in Ebbsfleet in September 2021 (page 37 of link) with eight forms of secondary pupils intake,and, at the time of writing is consulting on a two FE primary extension. 

I have updated my comprehensive list of academies in Kent and Medway here and of Multi-Academy Trusts here.

I also look at various other news items relating to academies and Free Schools below, including; other new academies; new schools; expanding grammar schools; academy performance; individual academy trusts and schools; and 'Minded to Terminate' letters . This is an exceptionally long article, one of a series produced several times a year since the website began. However, I have been very busy on other matters so there has been a long period to cover since the previous item back in September.

Sections Include:

New schools: Chilmington Green Primary, Ashford; River Mill Primary School, Dartford; School of Science & Technology, Maidstone; Stone Lodge School, Dartford; New Special Schools in Swale; cancelled Hope Community Academy, Gravesham. new school at Alkerden, Ebbsfleet Valley 

New Academies: Deal primaries; Greenlands, Dartford; Halling, Medway; St George’s CofE (primary section), Gravesham; Waterfront UTC (re-brokered), Medway.

Expanding Grammar Schools

Academy Trusts: Leigh Academy Trust; Turner Schools

Individual Academies: Delce Academy, Rochester Ebbsfleet Academy, Dartford; Hadlow Rural Community School, Tonbridge; The Rochester Grammar School; Skinners School, Tunbridge Wells.

Minded to Terminate Letters  to Copperfield Academy, Gravesham and Twydall Primary, Gillingham

Academy Performance 


New Schools
New school at Alkerden, Ebbsfleet Valley, 8 FE secondary Academy, opening in 2021, to be run by Aletheia Anglican Academies Trust, currently consulting on adding a  2FE Primary section to become an all-through school on the model of the highly successful Lead school in the Trust, St George's CofE Comprehensive, Gravesend. This gives Ebbsfleet Academy two years to get itself sorted if it is to compete. 
Chilmington Green Primary School, Ashford, a new  Academy, opening fully in September, sponsored by Stour Academy Trust which comprises eight primary schools, including Finberry and Chilmington Green both new schools in a major Ashford development area. It began its existence in September 2018, taking in a total of just 15 pupils from Years R to Four during the course of the year in temporary premises.
River Mill Primary School, Dartford.
This new school is not in the Kent Primary Co-ordinated Admission process, and so accept applications directly. It will therefore draw children who have already been offered alternative schools, easing the pressure in the town, as explained here, for 30 children in Year R and 15 in Year One.   
School of Science and Technology Maidstone
This six form entry non-selective school, originally planned for 2016 is now to open in 2020, the main delay being to do with traffic on the narrow road having to service three adjacent secondary schools, all from the Valley Invicta Academy Trust (VIAT) as explained here. The consequences for Cornwallis Academy and New Line Learning could be dire, as it will draw numbers from these two schools both already struggling to attract pupils. There was a time some years ago when Cornwallis was the most  popular school in Maidstone, under different management. It nearly saw Valley Park one of the VIAT schools (also under different management) close down in the competition for pupils. How times change! 
Stone Lodge School, Dartford
This new non-selective secondary school, part of the Endeavour MAT alongside Wilmington Grammar Schools for Boys and Girls, is opening in September 2019 in the Stone Valley area of Dartford. Initially in temporary buildings, the new school will move into its permanent premises in 2020. Applications are outside the Kent Co-ordinated Admission procedure, so expect to see numbers at Ebbsfleet Academy with its 83 Local Authority Allocations fall sharply.
Hope Community Academy, Gravesham
 The school that never was. There has been a desperate shortage of primary school places in Northfleet, the West part of the Borough of Gravesham, for years. The most difficult year was 2018-19 when there were no vacant spaces on allocation at any school, until Copperfield Academy (see above) had its PAN increased by 30 places to 90, leaving the district with 25 vacancies all at the one school. One consequence that some children had to be taxied across the Borough to schools in the East of Gravesend where there were gaps.  
For 2019 admission Copperfield’s PAN was bizarrely kept at 90 children instead of cutting back to 60, with only 51 offers being made including 14 Local Authority Allocations. As a result it appeared there was excessive space in the district whilst there were just six other vacancies in two of the eight schools. In recent years two different attempts have been brought forward for a new school to cater for extensive new housing developments on the Ebbsfleet side of town. Both were turned down on the basis of KCC data as explained here, KCC local officers arguing on both occasions that there was no need and that Copperfield (previously Dover Road School under KCC)  would be at risk if a new school was allowed to open. On the most recent occasion, a site had been identified and the proposal had been approved by government for the New Generations Schools Trust as confirmed by details here. I have tried a number of times to find out why the school was blocked, with limited succes, except that it appears local politicians may have tried to influence the decision out of misguided loyalty to Copperfield Academy with its failed Ofsted, rapid turnover of headteachers and staff for years and a ‘Minded to Terminate Copperfield Academy’ Notice from government.
New Academies: 
Deal Education Alliance for Learning Trust
A new Multi-Academy Trust comprising seven local primary schools: Deal Parochial CofEHornbeamKingsdown and Ringwould CofE (Ofsted Outstanding, the other six are all Good); Northbourne CofESandownSholden CofE; and The Downs CofE.  They could not incorporate the other two local primary schools as these were already academies, committed elsewhere: St Mary’s Catholic Primary (part of the Kent Catholic Schools partnership) and Warden Bay School (lead school of the Veritas Academy Trust), underlying the inflexibility of the academy model. I explored the issues in an article written before the decision was taken, supporting the principle.When the academisation was proposed there was some initial opposition, sadly exaggerated because of the failure of the secondary Goodwin Academy brought about by mismanagement and greed. Given the rundown of Kent’s School Improvement Service, now called The Education People, the schools clearly believe with good reason that they are able to make better use of the funding by focused support. This is one of an increasing number of Multi Academy Trusts, comprising groups of primary schools, run by the schools themselves taking advantage of local leadership and benefits of scale.

 Greenlands Primary School, Dartford – previously Darenth Community Primary School, converted to an academy as part of the Cygnus Academy Trust (another local Trust with four primary schools, three in Dartford).

Halling Primary School in Medway has become a Converter Academy in the Cliffe Woods Academy Trust, now comprising Cliffe Woods Primary and Halling.

St George’s CofE Comprehensive, Gravesend, primary section, opening in September 2019 for Reception and Year One, to take in 30 pupils in each year group. There is currently no primary places shortage in Gravesend, The school is part of the Aletheia Anglican Academies Trust, comprising St George’s and six local church primary schools.

Waterfront UTC in Medway has been re-brokered to The Howard Academy Trust, which also comprises five Medway primary schools along with the Howard School. This follows its complete failure under the name of Medway UTC.  It is also changing its intake age to eleven to try and attract pupils, as Leigh UTC has done before it, which wipes out the UTC concept for the schools. 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 03 June 2020 23:21


  • Comment Link Tuesday, 18 June 2019 19:36 posted by Tom Hughes

    You mention that the government has given the go ahead for Chilmington Green Secondary Academy and link it to Ashford School. Actually, the United Church Schools Trust runs Ashford School whilst the separate but affiliated United Learning Trust will be the MAT for Chilmington, along with Wye Free School. PETER; Thanks for this. The Wye Free School website states it is part of United Learning. The United Learning Website says that one of its school is Ashford School . From the UL website: 'In 2012, it was agreed that the two linked charities should come together as a Group to form 'United Learning'.'. I have adjusted my update to reflect your comment.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 06 June 2019 23:07 posted by Philip Jamieson

    Another thorough, unique and brilliant piece of research Peter, contributing to an unparalleled record of educational events across the county and country. Why has it not been recognised for what it is? Archives scream for such data. PETER: Thank you.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 06 June 2019 21:45 posted by Saddened previous Folkestone Academy teacher

    As a previous member of staff at the Folkestone Academy, who year on year celebrated our success of being over subscribed, I am devastated to read that they have 84 places available, with an already reduced PAN.

    It is beyond belief that the fortune of a school can be damaged so extensively in just two years.

    Please can someone, somewhere take note and do something about these failures. PETER I share your despair. However the message from government appears clear. Turner Schools is to be financially supported however badly they perform! I have now produced so many areas of failure; surely those in charge must be eventually become aware of them. What must other more responsible Trusts think about this extraordinary unfairness.

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