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Monday, 20 May 2013 12:05

Dame Janet Primary Academy: Withering OFSTED Report - failed school to failed academy

Dame Janet Primary Academy in Ramsgate, created on 1st December 2012 from the two predecessor schools, Dame Janet Infant & Junior Schools, has recently been the subject of a withering OFSTED Report. Last July I wrote in an article entitled “KCC hands over low performing schools to Academy Trusts”: “A classic example is Dame Janet Community Infant School in Ramsgate, placed in Special Measures by OFSTED in January. A recent follow up OFSTED inspection is highly critical describing progress as inadequate.  KCC ought to have poured in resources to bring it back on track; instead OFSTED considers that KCC’s "Statement of Action has not had an impact on bringing about improvement". Never mind, the Report states that KCC is developing plans to change the status of the school, and it will become an academy sponsored  by Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT)”. KCC therefore absolved themselves of responsibility for the failing school, along with four other Thanet primaries all handed over to TKAT. Sadly this abdication has, initially at least, only sent the school spiralling further downwards, showing that the academy movement is not a panacea for all Local Authority failings.....


Because of the previous failure, OFSTED carried out a monitoring inspection of the new academy at the end of last month after five months in operation, the new Principal having taken up post in August 2012 to prepare for the conversion. The Report is withering in its criticism of the academy’s failures. Some excerpts: “Standards in reading, writing and mathematics for all groups of pupils throughout the academy are low. A legacy of underachievement has not been tackled with sufficient rigour or urgency. As a result, pupils are not making enough progress to close the gaps in their knowledge and skills to reach the levels expected for their age. Consequently, they are ill prepared for the next stage of their learning... In lessons, too many pupils were seen making little or no progress because activities lacked a clear focus or were not matched to what pupils already knew and what they needed to learn next... Too many lessons are inadequate....In most lessons seen teachers did not check carefully how well all pupils were learning, particularly those who were working on their own. Consequently, errors and misconceptions were not spotted and corrected quickly. Pupils who could not read instructions or the worksheet they were given went unnoticed for too long. Pupils who had understood the task or were not sufficiently challenged to keep them working productively became restless or distracted. As a result, the pace of learning was too slow and expectations of the quantity and quality of work to be produced were unclear or too low”.

“Exclusion rates are well above the national average, particularly among the younger pupils, and there has been little change since the academy opened”.

Leaders at all levels have not acted with sufficient urgency or rigour to bring about the improvements needed in teaching and learning.....The absence of an improvement plan ....has been a serious omission. Arrangements for governors and the trust to hold senior staff to account for improving teaching and raising standards have been weak and hindered by the lack of such a plan”.

“The academy shares training with the other local primary trust schools, supported by the executive headteacher. However, external support has made little difference to improving teaching and learning because it has not been targeted where it has been needed most. Nor have checks been made to ensure that what has been learned has been put into practice or advice acted on”.

Of course, Dame Janet Juniors had been found Satisfactory on its own most recent OFSTED Inspection in 2011, and has now been drawn down into the corporate failure. Sadly this experience is not unique as was found at Tree Tops  Academy in Maidstone earlier in the year. One can only hope that the other Thanet academies run by TKAT are faring better but those parents who see their schools being taken over by academy Trusts against their will only see their fears underlined by this case.

Last modified on Monday, 27 May 2013 19:17

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