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Wednesday, 30 December 2020 06:15

Website Review of 2020


There has been plenty of detailed news and information about high and low performing Academy Trusts in the county, including a list recording every academy separately and its nature and/or geographic setting, together with a breakdown of the component schools in every Multi-Academy Trust with a presence in the county. You will also find my regular feature tracking exceptional salaries paid out to academy leaders, some with a random connection to performance. 

A number of articles, most recently here, explore the continued turmoil at Turner Schools, a small Trust in Folkestone, founded and run by the very high profile Dr Jo Saxton, who decamped after just three years to add her expertise to the Department of Education as a political adviser back in March. The collection of fantastical claims and quotations made about the Trust’s performance which I have collected has to be read to be believed. Meanwhile, the performance of lead school Folkestone Academy has declined in every respect since being taken over by the Trust, including student numbers in Year 12 which have plummeted from 131 just before the Trust took over to an unviable 48 this September, as students have lost confidence in the school. Year 7 is now down from 267 pupils to 154 this year. Perhaps the new Political Adviser in the DfE should investigate why this is happening! 

I have continued to follow the long-running saga of Holmesdale and The North schools, both managed by Swale Academies Trust on behalf of Kent County Council, after Holmesdale was run into the ground by KCC and I have received correspondence via an FOI request betraying a relationship which is all but broken down. This reveals that, astonishingly, KCC is still trying to hold on to the two schools although all obstacles to their becoming sponsored academies appear to have been removed including an offer by the Trust to take on the large amount of outstanding debt at The North.  The sudden departure of Keith Abbott from his role as KCC Director of Planning and Access in March appears to be related to this (see below).  

I have looked several times at aspects of the grossly underperforming Brook Learning Trust with its three schools, Ebbsfleet Academy, Hayesbrook School and High Weald Academy. Amongst other statistics, between them they claim three of the top four vacancy rates in Year Seven classrooms this September, separated only by Holmesdale with Folkestone Academy in fifth place. I have not yet finished an article I promised about Brook last year, but it is worth recalling that the Trust also managed Holmesdale until it was removed having taken the school down into Special Measures. 

I have continued to focus on why Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust and SchoolsCompany, both closed down by the government because of poor performance following excellent financial profits for those in charge, have had investigations into their management by DfE stalled for over two years. Is it that no one in the Department wants to find out about the answers?

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Last modified on Thursday, 14 January 2021 10:20

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