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Sunday, 09 June 2019 19:46

Copperfield Academy and Twydall Primary School Issued with 'Minded to Terminate' Notices


 Twydall Primary School
In 2012 Twydall was found Good by Ofsted, but two years later received an Inadequate assessment placing it in Special Measures. There were certainly issues around this decision and I wrote an article entitled ‘The Mystery of Twydall Primary School, Gillingham,  and another look at Medway’s appalling Primary Ofsted Results’. The inspection came at the nadir of Medway Council’s dreadful Ofsted outcomes. The Report notes that ‘The local authority has provided only light touch support to the school and has not provided enough challenge, so achievement by the end of Key Stage 2 has not improved’, whilst the follow up Monitoring Inspection criticises both the support of the Council and also external Consultants it brought in to help. My article castigates the performance of Medway Council and, as an aside, reports ‘that I have been told on radio by the relevant Deputy Cabinet Member that I fail to appreciate the Department's excellent work’ (she has now gone on to be a Government Minister). The analysis of the Council’s performance is truly shocking, with five out of 27 schools being found Inadequate, and 11 seeing their Ofsted rating decline. The Council’s solution in this case was to pass the school over to the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT), a growing Medway force, with a policy to encourage all schools to academise, to cover up their failures, coming some time later. In the meantime it was one of the two schools from the 2015 Medway Council initiative to bring successful London teachers into the Authority as heads, neither of whom lasted long.   

At around this time, I became involved in a battle by the school to avoid being taken over by TSAT, being brought in informally by some governors to advise. The battle is laid out in a series of articles beginning here, the others accessed through the website search engine, which paint of picture of a failing school, a governing body at war with itself and with the Council manipulating membership, whilst at the same time being determined to get rid of it by passing it on to an unwelcome Academy Trust, whose solutions to problems were unpalatable to parents and most governors.

Eventually TSAT tired of the battle and withdrew in 2015 leaving Twydall to find an alternative solution. The shocking state of Medway education at the time is set out here giving little hope the Council could help Twydall sort its problems. Twydall then by mutual agreement become an academy sponsored by Rainham Mark Grammar School (RMGS).

Subsequently Twydall limped along being one of the lowest performing schools in Medway, failing its Ofsted in June 2018, placed in the Category of ‘Serious Weaknesses’. The Report noted that: ‘Following the school’s conversion to academy status in 2016, the school declined further. Fragilities and turbulence in leadership and staffing have hampered school improvement. Improvements have only just got under way since the appointment of the acting headteacher in January 2018. She has brought a new sense of purpose and direction to the school and has harnessed the support of the staff. There are positive green shoots of recovery’ .  A Monitoring Inspection in April 2019 carried out by an HMI is very positive, but the bottom line is that this school remains unpopular with families. It has had the fourth or fifth highest percentage of vacancies of any Medway school in each of the past four years. Ofsted June 2018: ‘In 2017, the standards achieved by pupils by the end of key stage 2 declined significantly to below the government’s minimum expectations. Pupils’ progress was significantly below the national average in reading and mathematics, and only a third of pupils achieved the expected standards’.

These standards improved considerably for 2018, with reading and maths at an average standard (nationwide) and two thirds of pupils achieving the national standard.

The 2019 results will be critical but the November 2018 ‘Minded to Terminate’ letter was written before the much stronger  2018 SAT outcomes were available and so would appear to have been premature, with the school  surely able to look forward to its withdrawal.  

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Last modified on Monday, 20 April 2020 05:29

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