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Saturday, 16 October 2021 17:49

West Kent Single Academy Trust Alliance (WKSATA)

Five popular and successful West Kent secondary schools, Hadlow Rural Community School, Hillview School for Girls, Knole Academy, Tonbridge Grammar School, and Trinity School will announce today that they are joining in a formal collaboration to work closely together. Their aims in doing this are that the schools should together grow stronger and provide an even higher level of educational provision for their students, whilst keeping their individual identities and shielding them from the government target that all schools should come together in Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) of twelve or more schools.   

The enclosed joint Letter to Parents and FAQ are very clear on the underlying principles of the Alliance. The five schools are all very different in character as outlined below and are in no doubt that the government drive for large MATs would change and damage those characters. 

I heartily applaud this initiative which appears to have many benefits as set out in the above documentation for these schools. There is no doubt that many other schools have benefitted by the alternative MAT model, but this is a welcome reminder that there are others that would be equally effective. Also below, you will find sections on Government Policy on Academisation and Other Kent and Medway ‘Alliances’

The Schools
You will find a link to each school website in the title. This is followed by one to my Individual School Information Section, which describes many features of the school such as admission numbers and oversubscription, appeals, performance, and Ofsted outcomes.
The smallest secondary school in Kent with an intake of just 75 pupils, specialising in its ‘commitment and vision to integrate land-based education into all areas of our school'. Regularly oversubscribed with first choices.
Intake of 240 girls. Consistently amongst the highest performing non-selective schools in Kent. Regularly oversubscribed with first choices. Has had an excellent reputation for many years and had the second-highest non-selective staying on rate to the Sixth form in Kent in 2020.
Knole Academy, Sevenoaks: ISI
Intake of 240 pupils. Academically successful. Has become very popular in the last few years and was the third most oversubscribed N/S school in Kent in 2021, turning away 102 first choices.
Amongst the diversity of schools in the Alliance, TGS is one of the most academically selective schools in Kent, highly oversubscribed, turning away 143 grammar qualified girls in 2021.
Trinity School, Sevenoaks: ISI
A new Free School, set up in 2013 by advocates of a Christian education, it rightly describes itself as a ‘unique state-funded Christian school’. It gives admission priority to children of families who regularly attend a Christian Church for 50% of its places. Initially offering 120 places it rapidly expanded to 180 and is always oversubscribed.
Government Policy on Academisation
The government’s vision is for every school to be part of a family of schools in a strong multi-academy trust, ideally with twelve or more members. This is frequently in the news and the change of Secretary of State for Education appears to have made no change in this area of policy at present. At present, there are nine MATs in Kent that meet the size criterion, and 41 others of all shapes and sizes. 

I looked at the policy more closely in July, in my article about Government Policy on Promoting Academies. Only time will tell whether the Alliance is strong enough to resist the gathering pressure to merge fully, but it could stand to show that there is an alternative.

I recently carried out a survey of all Academies in Kent and Medway, containing links to all the various combinations that operate, including a list of every Single Academy Trust. Many of the multi-academy trusts are highly successful by different criteria, often serving to turn round struggling maintained schools, but there are certainly some shockers amongst them, including the unlamented Brook Learning Trust, recently swallowed up by Leigh, and the defunct and corrupt Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust and SchoolsCompany.

Other Kent and Medway ‘Alliances’.
There is a large variety of connections between maintained schools and academies across Kent and Medway, but this is the first formal alliance of Single Academy Trusts that I can see (I am happy to be corrected). Altogether there are 28 other secondary SATs and MATs with a single school, of which 15 are grammar schools,  so there is scope for further ventures of this nature.

The Kent MAT Alliance is a group of 9 Multi Academy Trusts and a Teaching School with 38 primary schools across the county. they describe themselves as 'a like-minded collective of CEOs who strongly believe we are ‘better together’; working collaboratively to improve the educational outcomes of all the children in our care'. It embraces the multi-institution East Kent College Group with its own MAT 

Then there are 19 Learning Alliances which are collaborations of primary and secondary schools, often fairly local to each other, listed here, which are groups of teaching schools that work together to support the development of high quality teaching, learning and leadership and are able to support prospective teachers on their journey to become qualified. Worryingly, one of these is the New Horizons Teaching Schools Alliance, given my recent article on its home Academy Trust, TSAT, and the Gordon Children’s Academy. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Alliance website is currently closed. Another was the Brook Learning Trust. 

And really just a trivial matter given the importance of the initiative. Surely the group could have come up with a more manageable name than West Kent Single Academy Trust Alliance, and its awkward acronym. 
Last modified on Saturday, 16 October 2021 17:54

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