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Tuesday, 07 January 2020 19:43

New Secondary School in Thanet vetoed at the Last Moment.

 In his last action just twenty minutes before standing down as Leader of Kent County Council on October 17th, Paul Carter vetoed the proposal to build a new non-selective school in Thanet on the grounds that population numbers had not risen as fast as forecast. Instead he stated that what Thanet needed was better schools rather than additional ones, and that the financial cost to Kent was not necessary.

Preceding this decision, the Kent Schools Commissioning Plan 2019-2023 stated that: The new secondary Free School has been commissioned on the site of the former Royal School for the Deaf. The Howard Academy Trust has been confirmed as the successful sponsor via the DfE Free School Presumptive process. The School will open in temporary accommodation in 2020 with 120 Year 7 places, and in 2021 on the new site as a 6FE school. The support of existing schools will be required to provide temporary Year 7 places for 2019 until the new school is delivered.

KCC’s Scrutiny Committee on 19th November considered Mr Carter’s decision as reported here, pp 17 – 28, and I have considered it in detail below. The two key outcomes of the Open part of this meeting were: firstly it appears clear that the decision to veto the original decision was the right one even if the alternative proposed would create other problems and; secondly that KCC officers were seriously wrong in their number planning as demonstrated by KCC’s own Commissioning Plan and my simple charts below, their excuses for not noticing the population trend not standing up to scrutiny and with no one to be held accountable for this debacle. A subsequent closed session may well have looked at the data, but we don't know. 

Update: There are  two important follow-up articles to this one, which both look at the unfortunate consequences of this situation in their Thanet sections. These are: 

The agenda papers for the Scrutiny Committee make clear that Mr Carter’s decision could not be overruled by the Committee and so it still stands, but his decision could yet be cancelled by Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System and the original proposal reinstated. Unfortunately, because the subsequent meeting on 18th December was cancelled, the Minutes of the Committee are not yet in the public domain, and in any case there was a private part of the meeting, but there is a webcast of that part of the proceedings open to the public here.

The pressure to get the right answer can be seen from the October 2019 Schools Census which show that for 2019 entry, 1142 Year Seven places were taken up in the six schools, against a total Published Admission Number of 1159, a very small margin of error. You will find an analysis of the last five years outcomes and the potential numbers for the next five years below. 

Paul Carter's Presentation
As Leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter possessed Executive powers for 'Issuing a public notice for any significant change to a school in terms of number of pupils, age range, type or status of school, closure or merger, or creation of a new school' (KCC Constitution p 16). In order to meet the short term need for places, Paul has gained agreement for Ursuline College be expanded on a permanent basis from 5 Forms of Entry (5FE) to 6FE and King Ethelbert's School from 5FE to 7FE. Royal Harbour Academy with capacity for two extra forms of entry is also to be temporarily expanded to meet the additional need up to 2023/24. Hartsdown Academy is in receipt of a £12.5 million development scheme replacing unsatisfactory premises, which would also enable additional places to be offered.

In addition to the above, Mr Carter made the following points in his presentation to the Scrutiny Committee: He argued that the original decision was brought about by a short term demand, rising to a shortage of 5FE in 2021, but falling to 1FE in 2025, and that a decision was urgent if preparation works for a new school were to be halted. As any new school would not be built until 2022, the ugly interim plan was for Year Seven pupils at the new school to be educated at the site of the old Walmer School for the year 2021-22.

He also argued that the expansion would enable Hartsdown, Ursuline and King Ethelbert’s to offer a wider curriculum and that there was evidence both Hartsdown and Royal Harbour were both on an upward trajectory in terms of performance. He initially promoted a new proposition by the three form entry Ofsted Outstanding Newington Primary School in Ramsgate, to become an all through school, of the same size, although this would be a secondary intake of only 90 pupils leading to a very narrow curriculum (Two other free schools have opened at this size: Wye and Hadlow, and both have very rapidly expanded, realising the problems that a small sized secondary school incurs, probably in terms of curriculum choice and provision). Later in the meeting he appeared to backtrack on this for the same reason.

To present the case were: Paul Carter, ex-leader of KCC; Roger Gough, new Leader of KCC and ex-Education Cabinet Member; and Richard Long, new Education Cabinet Member. There were two witnesses representing Thanet secondary schools, both from the Coastal Academies Trust (CAT), which runs three of the six non-selective schools. These were Paul Luxmoore, Executive Head of CAT, and Kate Greig, Executive Head of two CAT schools, Dane Court Grammar and King Ethelbert, both witnesses being prominent in support of Hartsdown, King Ethelbert and Royal Harbour in their evidence. With no officer present, there was nobody to give an alternative or independent view on the situation, which would have made proper scrutiny possible.

Hartsdown Academy and Royal Harbour Academy
Both schools are run by the Coastal Academies Trust (CAT) which provided the two witnesses representing Thanet schools at the Scrutiny Committee Meeting. Royal Harbour Academy is a County Maintained school managed by CAT (see below for further details). 
I last looked at secondary provision in Thanet here in March, which highlights the key issues, with Hartsdown and  Royal Harbour (not an academy)  having 189 pupils allocated between them for September 2019 who had not applied to either school. Hartsdown has the lowest Attainment 8 GCSE score in the country for 2019, and the fourth lowest Progress 8, being bottom in Kent on both measures. Royal Harbour Academy came next lowest  on both in Kent, 14th in country on Progress 8 and 10th lowest on Attainment 8). Both of these schools serve areas of severe social deprivation.  At the other end of the scale, St George's CofE and King Ethelbert are two of the most oversubscribed schools in Kent, with Charles Dickens, just out of Ofsted Special Measures, still turning away 77 first choices. Hartsdown has the second highest proportion of pupils leaving for Home Education in the county at the same level over at least the past four years, and second highest proportion of Fixed Term Exclusions in Kent, both for 2018-19. For 2017-18 (latest figures available) it had the 3rd highest absence rate of any secondary school in the country, at 13.2%, and also of pupils who were 'persistently absent' which amounted to an astonishing 41.2%. Amazingly, Hartsdown’s apparent ‘upward trajectory’  comes eight years after it chose to become an academy with the CAT, in hindsight clearly a disastrous decision. In 2012, Hartsdown made 110 offers to children who had applied for the school for Year Seven; by 2019, this number had fallen to 74. One can only speculate how it fell so far from grace over these eight years to become the lowest performing school in the country in the summer of 2019, and what has changed since then to produce the upward trajectory that the Trust failed to find in the interim period. Several fine sounding procedures were put forward as solutions, several apparently approved by The Education People, KCC's School Improvement Service. This service is hardly independent as it will be responsible for oversight of the school, and whose performance I have discussed elsewhere.  Pity about all the children who have paid the price.r offer day
The Problem
It emerged at the meeting that the main reason for Paul Carter’s late decision was that forecast secondary numbers for Thanet schools are turning out considerably lower than reported in the 2019 Commissioning Plan published just 12 months ago. Various reasons for this were given, blame being focused on double counting of births in Thanet by the NHS. I monitor and have full data for pupil numbers in primary schools, and one can only ask why KCC officers did not bother to do the same, when any discrepancy with NHS data should have been obvious. Two other reasons were also put forward, with housing developing more slowly and migration into the District also falling, but again these factors were knowable.

One Member of the Committee did rightly suggest that KCC Officers should have spotted this long before last January, but there appeared no appetite to follow this query through and no officers were present to defend themselves, perhaps deliberately as their position is surely indefensible. As is so often with such failures, no one is accountable, but excuses are manifold. The two tables below confirm at a simple reading firstly, that there has been an increase of just 50 pupils joining Year Seven in Thanet non-selective schools over the past five years, and secondly that there is now a steady decline in the number of primary pupils working through the system. I have given the relevant data for the same peer groups for 2018 and 2019 separately, to see if there is inward migration, only to discover that if anything there is a decline in nearly every age group. If you, the reader can follow this, then you may well ask why KCC officers have failed completely to do so! 

Thanet Non-Selective Schools
Year Seven intake and Capacity.
  Year 7 Total PAN* Vacancies
2019 1142 1159 17
2018 1073 1099 26
2017 1097 1098 1
2016 1050 1117 67
2015 1092 1199 107

 * Published Admission Number

 Note: In several of these years additional temporary places were created to meet the pressures.

Thanet Primary School Cohort for
October 2018, tracked for 2019 
 
Oct 2018
Oct 2019
Increase
over Year
Year 6   1622 Secondary  
Year 5  1622  631 9
Year 4  1538 536  -2
 Year 3  1594 1585 -9
 Year 2  1563 1562 -1
 Year 1  1528 1520 -8
 

 Whatever, there are just two ways forward on the table at present. Firstly, there is still the original proposal to open a new school on the site of the Royal School for the Deaf in Margate which is recoverable and could yet be imposed by Lord Agnew. However, without sufficient pupils to go round, seven schools, at least one of these is going to become vulnerable. The following table underlines the fragility of both Hartsdown and Royal Harbour who depend to a large extent on Local Authority Allocations, children whose parents do not apply to the school they have been allocated, and in many cases have made choices deliberately in an attempt to avoid these schools.  The October 2019 census shows the fallout with 75 children disappearing from the two schools almost before the school year started, with Hartsdown also seeing the second highest proportion of pupils withdrawing for Home Education in the county. Without the numbers coming through some 150 pupils could vanish from these two schools, unless parents are left no alternative by squeezing out all choice for many.

The second solution as set out above, is dependent on both Hartsdown and Royal Harbour being expanded, when on a variety of performance measures they are both, especially Hartsdown, amongst the lowest achievers in the country. 
 
Thanet Non-Selective Schools Admission September 2019
 
2019
PAN
Places
Offered
1st
Choice
1st Not
Offered
LAAs*
Census
Oct 19
CharlesDickens 232 232 219 77 0 232
Hartsdown 180 175 46 0 101 144
King Ethelbert 150 150 266 122 0 154
Royal Harbour 200* 241 92 0 88 197
St George's 217 217 390 182 0 226
Ursuline 180 180 152 23 0 189
* Local Authority Allocations
*Royal Harbour increased to 250 places for entry in 2020.  
 
Thanet Non Selective Schools
Much was made of the collegiality of all six Thanet non-selective schools, and the massive experience and ability of all the local headteachers. The meeting had two witnesses to speak for these Thanet heads, who fortuitously both came from The Coastal Academies Trust (CAT) which ran Hartsdown, Royal Harbour and King Ethelbert. At the meeting, Ms Greig quoted the good leadership of the headteacher of Hartsdown according to Ofsted, but both witnesses then rubbished the performance of Ofsted with regard to schools in difficult circumstances to suggest they could be overlooked in the cases of Hartsdown and RHA . Naturally, there was no mention of the previous and highly respected headteacher of Hartsdown, Andy Somers, whose leadership was itself disgracefully rubbished in the Report, despite his having led the school to Good four years earlier and consistently attracted more first choices to the school than his successor. I have reported many times on the controversial statements and actions of the current head of Hartsdown, most recently here, which themselves go to undermine potential progress and recruitment of pupils at the school – hardly good leadership as claimed by the Trust. His Headteacher welcome (most of this page deleted since this article appeared, but reproduced here) on the opening page of the school website hardly reads like that of someone in touch with reality.
 
Ms Greig also made great play of her own performance at King Ethelbert, which according to her had been a sink school until she became head, to demonstrate her abilities in turning such schools around. This is the second occasion I have come across when she has made such a claim. On the previous occasion I was lobbied by members of the school before she took over, with a contrary view. This was because the school had been awarded two Outstanding Ofsted Reports before it became an academy (the second time with Mr Luxmoore as headteacher), but on her first Inspection after academisation was found to Require Improvement (Ofsted Quote:While the school judges leadership and management to be outstanding, inspectors judge them to require improvement!), before climbing back to Good (twice). Throughout this time the school had been heavily oversubscribed, so could never have qualified for her epithet ‘sink school’.
 
The geography of the Thanet non-selective secondary schools plays an important role in considering the problem, with three of the six schools, Ursuline Convent to the west, King Ethelbert, and Hartsdown situated in a row along the main coastal road in the north of Thanet and less than three miles apart. Ursuline College in Westgate is a Roman Catholic school in the Ursuline tradition, private until 1998.  So non-Catholic pupils in North Thanet will always look to King Ethelbert and its good Ofsted Reports (although very disappointing GCSE performance), it becoming the fourth most oversubscribed school in Kent this year. Inevitably this is at the expense of Hartsdown, and will remain so even if there is no new school, even though CAT would like to share popularity around. Interestingly, Ursuline has been taking six forms of entry for each of the past two years, above its Planned Admission Number, so the proposed increase in Mr Carter’s plan merely formalises the current arrangements, except that it will no doubt lead to further funding for the school. 
  
Coming round the coast to the middle of Thanet, we find Broadstairs, with St George’s CofE having been one of the two most oversubscribed schools in the county for some years. Charles Dickens School, the other school in Broadstairs, went into Special Measures in 2014, whilst being run by KCC, was then managed by CAT, taken away from them, passed over to St George’s and is now an academy in the Barton Court Trust, based in Canterbury. In spite of its poor record, Charles Dickens also remains one of the most oversubscribed schools in Kent, turning away 77 first choices in 2019, both schools benefitting from the poor performance and reputation of RHA to the south, as parents try to secure places at the nearest alternative.
Then there is Ramsgate with Royal Harbour Academy split across two sites the result of  two mergers, firstly as Ellington High School for Girls was combined with Hereson School for boys  to create a further good school. Then, what was the most notorious school in Kent, Marlowe Academy, the first new build academy in Kent was closed, with the premises being given to Ellington/Hereson to form the monstrous split site Royal Harbour Academy, complete with the Marlowe reputation, which still haunts the school and the people of Thanet. With a PAN of 200 for September, the school offered an additional 50 places to meet the shortfall in 2019, producing a struggling school which then lost 50 pupils to others before the Autumn Term started in September. I would be glad to learn of the upward trajectory, but the other evidence I have put forward here suggests this may be optimistic. Councillor Mrs Binks, from Broadstairs, bluntly described RHA as a sink school in the meeting. Staggeringly, the view was put forward without challenge that the Regional Schools Commissioner is wrong in his view that struggling schools should not expand, as such expansion would give them more opportunities. Apparently the ‘opportunities’ are for the school to offer a wider curriculum and be more cost effective. Whatever the opportunities for the school are, the RSC is right, as it is clearly wrong to force more pupils into failing or poor schools and this remains the underlying problem.
 
 
Ofsted and Stuck Schools
As I prepared this article, Ofsted has published: 'Fight or flight? How ‘stuck’ schools are overcoming isolation: evaluation report', but surprisingly neither school qualifies. Hartsdown was found to be Good by Ofsted in 2018, and both Ellington and Hereson were good schools before they were swallowed up by RHA. However, the article still offers much good advice. 
 
 
Final thoughts
I would be delighted to support a viable solution for the sake of Thanet families, but fear one does not exist. The key part of the problem is the performance of Hartsdown Academy and Royal Harbour Academy over the years, with no one willing or able to resolve it. Normally after eight years of abject failure by its leaders, an Academy would be re-brokered to another Trust to try and do better. The problems here are (1) which Academy Trust would be willing to take the school on.  Evidence is that Trusts are far more picky now, about taking on difficult cases, although I can think of two large ones in Kent that have the ruthlessness and ability to do so if anyone can. (2) Even if some one could pick up the school and turn it round, this would take several years and the problem is now.
In spite of its name, Royal Harbour Academy is not an academy, as Ellington School for Girls, one of its forebears, was rebuilt under PFI and KCC cannot afford to let it go because of the crippling financial penalty, as explained both here, and in another article to be published shortly. Whilst KCC has asked Coastal Academies Trust to manage the school, it is clear they do not have the answers to turn the school around and perhaps, as happened with Charles Dickens School, the Council should make fresh arrangements.
 
It is clear that Paul Carter's 'solution' to the problem is the least worst, but it is no use pretending that Hartsdown and RHS are on this 'upward strategy' with eight years of failure by CAT at Hartsdown as evidence, against possible new ideas put forward by the Trust representatives which they claim will solve the problems. What is needed is a radical solution and serious investment of money and skills, dare I say it, in the 'Cummings' mode. 
 
However, even if those responsible have the courage to take these actions it is going to take years to turn the two schools round and even more difficult to restore confidence in them amongst parents. In the meantime, further generations of Thanet children are going to have their life chances seriously damaged, but as usual no one in authority is culpable. It won't help, but there should be immense anger about this cock up, instead the local newspapers looked at the issues mildly before the Scrutiny Committee Meeting, so without the facts reported above. Since then not a whisper anywhere as we all wait for Lord Agnew's decision.  
Last modified on Saturday, 18 April 2020 18:35

9 comments

  • Comment Link Sunday, 19 January 2020 19:53 posted by Carl Epson

    Too bloody right. Its a disgrace. Why does no one bother. They should all be sacked.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 19 January 2020 19:51 posted by Desperate parent

    Peter you have clearly demonstrated that Hartsdown is not fit for purpose. Why is no one listening to our misery. My daughter suffers from poor teaching by a rapidly changing teaching staff, in a school that is led by a fantasist. No one else will take her as they appear to have a pact not to take Hartsdown children. Your article suggests Thanet headteachers work as a team - is this what they mean? You seem the only person who cares. For her sake and many more to come, what can we do? WE are now planning to join the host of self educators with no skills to offer. PETER: I have done all I can. The evidence is there. Sadly your MP is part of the establishment committed to holding it together no matter what the cost to his constituents' children. I know people who have complained to everyone in authority but to no avail. One alternative leaves Hartsdown and its expensive new premises to wither; the other leaves its children to suffer.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 15 January 2020 20:51 posted by Angrey parents

    Too right. My two children have no job prospects thanks to Hartsdown Academy and its appalling leadership. Does anyone know if I can sue?

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 15 January 2020 20:47 posted by Harry O.

    What a nerve of the two Executive Heads of Coastal Academies Trust and the Deputy Head of a CAT school to expect the people of Thanet to lie down and be grateful for the mess they have created in at least two of their schools. Have they no apology to make to all the children who have suffered over too many years for their bad management. They still allow the Head of Hartsdown to make fantasy claims such as the 'fantastic GCSEs' this year to describe the worst results in the country. They should all resign and let someone competent take over. With this miserable level of competence, a new school in Margate might well shake up Thanet schools in a big way. Scaredy Cats!

  • Comment Link Monday, 13 January 2020 18:00 posted by Angry Thanet Parent (details supplied)

    So what is wrong with the original proposal? Thanet gets a brand new school, and one or other of the highly unpopular and failing ones goes to the wall to the regret of few. Peter, you have highlighted a number of these over the years, across the county, in most cases unregretted. Somehow the system goes on, usually for the better. Our son spent five wasted years at Hartsdown and we listened to repeated lies about how it was going to improve. No one was interested in the pupils, just the school's reputation.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 12 January 2020 04:35 posted by Richard Thompson

    What a waste of space taken up in the comments below by vested interests. The Executive Decision by the Leader of KCC to veto an approved plan for a new school in Thanet put forward by his own Council is massive, but appears to be ignored apart from a couple of shallow local newspaper comments at the time. However, you analyse the relevant issues very clearly and independently for all to see as usual. The problem that two of Thanet's non-selective schools are seen as not fit for purpose by local families is critical to Mr Carter's plan working. To deny it as the establishment is trying to do is failing the children of Thanet, who rarely get a mention.

  • Comment Link Friday, 10 January 2020 15:13 posted by Tom Sellen

    SEE EXTENSIVE REBUTTAL BELOW. I REMAIN HAPPY TO PUBLISH COMMENTS RELATING TO THE MATTERS IN THE TITLE OF THE ARTICLE
    Unfortunately, it's not possible to take anything from this article as it contains so many inaccuracies and inconsistencies. This is strange as the author clearly claims to be the font of all educational knowledge. These include; Charles Dickens School's most recent Ofsted inspection did not place it in Special Measures. The CAT was not running Charles Dickens School when it was placed in Special Measures. Ms Greig was leading King Ethelbert School when it received its most recent Outstanding Ofsted judgement. The author refers to the Progress 8 scores of both Hartsdown and Royal Harbour Academy. Progress 8 can be misleading when comparing and judging schools. Especially schools with high levels of deprivation, this has been reported widely. I wonder if the author believes that Simon Langton Boys' GS is one the 'worst' schools in Kent and the country over recent years? Peter Read also uses Ofsted judgements to support his arguments. Andy Somers's leadership is praised as he achieved a 'Good' rating, however, the current HT's 'Good' rating for leadership is disregarded as it does not suit the message the author is putting forward. The article describes King Ethelbert School's GCSE performance as being 'very disappointing' despite it being above average nationally in one recent year and consistently in-line with other non-selective schools in Kent. What a shame as this was an opportunity for an informative and interesting article to be written about this issue currently taking place in Thanet. PETER: Thanks for pinpointing the error about Charles Dickens which I have changed. You identify no other inaccuracies or inconsistencies in spite of your wild claims at the beginning, which include your invented falsehood that I claim to be the font of all knowledge on educational matters in Kent. Where on earth did that one come from? As Deputy Head of King Ethelbert, thank you for reminding us that Mrs Greig was leading the school when it last received an Outstanding Ofsted ten years ago, although the Report identifies Mr Luxmoore as Headteacher. Of course that is irrelevant to the point I was making. Like your Executive Head (comment below) you have chosen to completely ignore the large amount of informative and interesting material that make up the purpose and bulk of the article, which is primarily about Paul Carter’s vetoing of a KCC decision to open a new school in Thanet, or is that unimportant and irrelevant. I have out of courtesy chosen to publish this attack on me but it would have been constructive to comment on the issue instead.

  • Comment Link Friday, 10 January 2020 14:11 posted by Paul Luxmoore

    SEE EXTENSIVE REBUTTAL BELOW
    Peter - I'm sorry that you have chosen to write again about Thanet and Coastal Academies Trust without a reliable understanding of the issues we face and, of course, without having the courage or the courtesy to visit the schools you criticise so viciously.I'm also sorry that you imply that pretty much everyone working in education in Kent is an idiot - except you. re just a few of your errors - Ellington Primary School doesn't exist. Do you mean Ellington Infants School? If so, they will be delighted to learn that they are now 'outstanding', but very concerned to learn that Paul Carter wanted them to become a through school with a secondary provision. I have asked you before not to claim that Charles Dickens school was run by CAT and 'was taken away from them'. The school was never 'run by CAT'. As an NLE, I was asked to support the school for a year. Each of the HMI monitoring visits during that year confirmed that the school was making progress to exit special measures and I proposed and supported the change of leadership to St George's at the end of that year, because of the creation of the Royal Harbour Academy, for which CAT was the preferred sponsor and which we knew would be a significant challenge - given that The Marlowe Academy had closed with 5.6% of students gaining five good GCSEs with Maths and English. Can you now please stop reporting this inaccurately? Kate Greig absolutely was responsible for the second outstanding grade from Ofsted for King Ethelbert School. My name appears on the report because, as Executive Head, I was legally responsible for the school - but Kate was Head of School and very much responsible for the significant improvements - the school had moved from 14% five good GCSEs to 34%. Kate is a highly respected headteacher in Kent and very successful - I'm not sure why you want to imply that she is not. Peter, I find your criticism of us - ie 'after 8 years of abject failure by its leaders' not only offensive (which I'm sure you don't care about) but also depressingly misinformed and ignorant. You repeatedly attack both Hartsdown and Royal Habour for their results, as though they are like any other mixed comprehensive school in the UK.I know that the way schools are measured is complex, but, as a 'educational consultant', you really should by now be able to understand these complexities. For example, last summer, only 58% of Year 11s at Royal Harbour took a full Progress 8 curriculum - and their Progress 8 score was -0.62, very much on a par with other challenging non selectives with very low attaining intakes. You might ask - so what about the 42% who did not take the 8 subjects, or who only took some of them? Well, the school has just (yesterday) had a 2 day Ofsted inspection and, whilst i am forbidden from publishing the result until this is done by Ofsted, it was very clear indeed that the curriculum is very well suited to the needs of its students and - and this will be confirmed when the report is published - the school has clearly made significant improvements. So Peter - it's easy to write nasty articles from your armchair, but have you got the courage to come and see these schools for yourself? You are welcome anytime, both to Hartsdown and to Royal Harbour and we will take you around each school, take you in to lessons, let you talk to students and staff and illustrate to you some of the very many challenges we face after years of budget cuts and what we have done to improve each school. When would you like to visit, Peter?

    PETER: Thank you for this robust response to my article which covers in great detail several minor points. As you appear not to have noticed, what I chose to write about was the theme of the title, perhaps oddly as I came out in strong support of your central thesis that there should not be a new school opened in Margate. My comments about Hartsdown and Royal Harbour take up a minor part of the whole (perhaps as much as 20%) to the extent that their poor performance and reputation amongst Thanet families imperils the success of the Paul Carter proposition.
    With regard to Newington Primary School's Outstanding Ofsted, it was clearly a misprint, easily changed without need for the tirade. With regard to Charles Dickens you are of course absolutely correct, I apologise for that and have removed the offending sentence. I passed no comment on Kate Grieg's abilities. What I did point out was that under her leadership King Ethelbert went down from Outstanding to Requires Improvement. What I was objecting to was her claim that she salvaged the school from a sink school (a term I would never myself apply as I regard it as insulting – although a Local Councillor also used it at the Scrutiny Committee without being challenged) which it never was anyway, as the data shows. The two main points of my article remain as firstly, that Paul Carter was absolutely right there should not be a new school in Thanet, and secondly that the original decision was made on the basis of hopelessly dated statistics which should never have been promoted by officers. Are these the idiots to whom you refer, for I am not aware of and have not written about any others. I simply don’t understand where or how you formed an opinion otherwise. Certainly not from my website which champions schools wherever possible. However, having made my main points I believe it was right to look at the nearly 200 families whose children are allocated annually to Hartsdown and Royal Harbour, two schools they are clearly trying to avoid. If Paul's scheme is to work, the reputation of the two schools needs to be urgently transformed. Underpinning the whole thesis is my statement that: 'RSC is right, as it is clearly wrong to force more pupils into failing or poor schools and this remains the underlying problem'. It would be good to know your view on this one. My analysis looks at the data which places Hartsdown firmly at the bottom of the country on a wide range of measures, lower than ever before. The very high level of social deprivation should not be enough to excuse action. There must be a solution and if you can't find it then someone else must, otherwise the Plan fails Thanet children yet again. I am delighted to hear your news about RHA, which is transparently good for everyone, even if it is a giveaway against the rules for Ofsted. However, you suggest that the school’s Progress 8 is on a par with other challenging non selectives with very low attaining intakes. Fourteenth lowest in the country out of over three and a half thousand schools is spectacularly low, but yes, you are right, it is on a par or better than 13 of those 3,500 plus schools, with Attainment 8 unsurprisingly a little lower. When I see the Report, I will of course give it due credit, but I am sure we both know it will take more than that to persuade the people of Ramsgate in the short term, where it is urgently needed. I am certainly not frightened of visiting your schools, but I am afraid I do not carry out such visits. I still think it was an error to have two witnesses from the same academy Trust, out of the six Thanet schools. I am sorry you feel the need to utter personal insults which demean the Trust. For reference, to the best of my memory I have never called myself a consultant. Of course I care about the failure by CAT to turn Hartsdown round over the past eight years and wonder why, only now it is at risk, this upward trajectory has been identified. To confirm, I am whole heartedly in favour of Paul Carter’s proposal and want as much as anyone to help make it work, for the sake of the children of Thanet. However a necessary condition for it to work is if the two schools are honest about their situations. To claim as the Headteacher of Hartsdown did on the school website this summer: ‘'We are celebrating our best ever year for results at GCSE in Year 11'' when his school was bottom in the country, along with other fantasy claims, just brings the Trust along with its pronouncements into disrepute.

  • Comment Link Friday, 10 January 2020 11:15 posted by Thanet Teacher

    Peter, you are spot on in every respect. So many families in Thanet are in despair. Many of those in the north have no alternative to Hartsdown. Most of those in Ramsgate have no alternative to RHA. KCC pretended a new school in Margate would solve both problems but you brilliantly demonstrate (a) it won't (b) it creates more problems and (c) much blame can be attached to KCC staff. I can't say I think much of your 'solution' either.

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