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Tuesday, 29 September 2020 18:54

Resignation of Clive Webster, CEO of Kent Catholic Schools Partnership

After a period of some five months of being ‘unexpectedly away from his duties’, Clive Webster CEO of the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership (KCSP) has resigned with effect from 23rd September, according to Companies House, although a news item on the Trust website states that ‘he has decided to step down at the end of December 2020’. His name has been expunged from any mention on the Trust website apart from his resignation statement and replaced as the lead introduction, which now fronted by Mike Powis, Chair of the Trust Board.

KCSP Logo

I previously wrote a lengthy news article about the Trust in June, analysing the key issues that may have led to his gardening leave or suspension from duties at the time, and there has been no further information about the situation forthcoming since then. Understandably, the Trust has remained very well-disciplined and tight-lipped about the matter, which may well have covered some delicate negotiations. The nature of the resignation statement below suggests it is a departure on agreed terms. 

Resignation Statement, 23rd September 2020
The Trust's Chief Executive, Clive Webster has decided to step down at the end of December 2020 after 7 years at the helm. Until then, Clive will continue to play an advisory role as part of the Board's consideration of any changes to the CEO role that would benefit the Partnership in the current circumstances, as compared with the very different context of 2013 when Clive took up post. This period will enable Clive to assist the Board effect a smooth handover of the Trust's leadership, as well as allow Clive to prepare for his next challenge. Clive extends his best wishes to the Trust and everyone associated with it for continued success into the future.

Whilst it is surely exceptional for a CEO to advise on changes in the role needed for his successor, who may well wish to avoid some of the controversial situations in which he has become embroiled, this will have been an agreed statement as part of any settlement. What there is not in the statement, nor anywhere else on the website, is any form of appreciation for his services to the Trust over the past seven years. Whatever else has happened, Mr Webster leaves KCSP as a highly successful Academy Trust in terms of performance at both primary and secondary level. 

KCSP is the largest Academy Trust in the county with 24 schools and, when he was appointed seven years ago, Mr Webster was already a high profile figure with extensive experience in a variety of roles. His annual salary of £155,000 places him amongst the highest-paid Academy Trust leaders in the country, as shown in my recent survey of those running Kent Academies. 

The two biggest issues during Mr Webster’s leadership were the eleven plus row and a centralisation drive both of which required the Archbishop of Southwark to intervene. One outstanding issue that has continued festering ever since he stepped down from active duty has been the crisis of leadership at St Thomas’ Catholic Primary School in Sevenoaks. This has now reached the level where  Dr Simon Hughes, who is Director of Education & Schools Commissioner for the Diocese of Southwark, has joined the governing body ‘to help support the school during the current period’, presumably as the level of support offered by KCSP is regarded as insufficient or ineffective.

Readers may wonder why I have spent so much time on the issues of KCSP and St Thomas’ school. One reason is the astonishing amount of interest shown in what is quite a fascinating, but sad, story with approaching 50,000 visitors to the five stories I have published in the past year on this specialised website. 

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