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Displaying items by tag: AET - Kent Independent Education Advice

I have frequently covered the failings of the three Maidstone primary academies run by the Academies Enterprise Trust on the pages of this website. At last there are signs of relief for the poor families whose children are forced to attend one of Molehill Primary Academy, Oaks Primary Academy and Tree Tops Primary Academy as they are taken away from AET control and transferred to the Leigh Academy Trust, currently Kent’s most successful academy chain, on 1st March.

All three schools have been failed by OFSTED in the past few years, an article I wrote in January 2014 being entitled: “Is this the worst school in the country, run by the worst academy chain? - Tree Tops Academy”. An update on the fate of the three schools followed in September. AET, the largest Academy chain in the country, is currently banned from taking on any new academies and received a highly critical letter from OFSTED, following the focused inspection of 12 of its 71 schools (OFSTED is currently not allowed to inspect academy chains directly), in September.……

Published in Peter's Blog
Updated with Salmestone OFSTED Report 24 Nov 2014
 
Drapers Mills Primary Academy, now run by the Kemnal Manor Academy Trust (TKAT), together with its predecessor school, have frequently appeared on the pages of this website. The latest OFSTED Monitoring Inspection in October, after the school was placed in Special Measures again in June earlier this year, has concluded that:

         The proprietor’s statement of action is not fit for purpose. The academy’s action plan is not fit for purpose.

Drapers Mills

Clearly, the Academy proprietors are panicking after a highly critical Special Report by OFSTED in July on TKAT. As part of their Report on Drapers Mills, OFSTED notes:

No action had been taken before the summer holiday except the removal of the governing body and the formation of an IEB….Since the inspection the previous headteacher has left. A new executive headteacher was put in place from 1 September 2014 who is a TKAT regional director of education. Two heads of school were also appointed and began work on 1 September 2014. The governing body was replaced with an interim executive board on 17 July 2014. There have been a large number of changes to the staff since the inspection. Fifteen members of staff have left the academy, including four out of the six newly qualified teachers who started at the beginning of the academic year.Fifteen new members of staff have joined….The executive headteacher and the two heads of school have acted decisively since September to address some of the inspection’s findings…. The proprietor has recently made available an additional team of skilled teachers to support the academy.

But we are now two years on from TKAT taking over a previously Satisfactory school. Two wasted years! Governors of the Primary School with local accountability were no doubt pressured to turn it into an academy. Do they feel responsible for the way it has turned out? Where is the local accountability now?

 

Salmestone Primary School

School became a TKAT academy in Sept 2012, after a previous Satisfactory OFSTED. Headteacher left September 2013, replacement left Easter 2014. OFSTED June 2014, found school Requires Improvement. The October Monitoring Inspection reports:

Half the teaching staff have left and been replaced. The governing body was suspended on 17 July 2014 and replaced with an Interim Executive Board (IEB). The IEB has had one meeting this year. The headteachers continue in part-time acting capacities. One of them is also headteacher of a school in London, and one is an educational consultant.....The external review of governance recommended at the last inspection has not taken place. The academy’s arrangements for governance are unusual as it is governed by the central TKAT IEB which oversees another academy locally. These arrangements are not sustainable if the long-term success of the academy is to be assured because the necessary time and skills for effective governance are spread too thinly.

 

Alternatively, schools in Special Measures may choose/fight to remain with KCC, like Lydd and Beaver Green Primaries, although there are problems with the support provided here also, as explained below.

Beaver Green

School Governors are increasingly being held to account if their school is in difficulties, but it is increasingly difficult to see where they should turn to for help. Has the departure of the Senior Primary Schools Improvement Officer seen a change in the aggressive attitude of some officers in the Authority to schools in difficulty?

If governors don’t know where to turn (and for the first time I have fielded a number of enquiries for assistance from both governors and headteachers this year) what about the distraught parents trying to get a decent education for their children? Unfortunately, with the pressure on primary school places, the only vacancies that exist in many areas are in failing or underperforming schools, and so there is often no alternative. Strangely, the recommendation to move if you don't like what you are getting is often made by headteachers who must know there is no appropriate alternative.  The lucky ones who can afford it have the option of private schools often seen as second choice but, for most, all they can do is watch as their children’s life chances are damaged by those responsible for nourishing them.......

Published in Peter's Blog

OFSTED carried out a focused inspection of 12 of the schools run by Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) in June. I have previously written an article about AET entitled “Is this the worst school in the country, run by the worst academy chain? - Tree Tops Academy”. For AET also runs four Maidstone primary academies, three handed over by KCC because of their inability to turn the schools round, and which have also now been let down by AET. The article focuses on Tree Tops, but could equally have been about Molehill Copse Primary. The other two schools are Oaks Academy and St James the Great Academy. Currently, because of its poor record, AET is banned from taking on any further academies.

A letter from OFSTED to AET is highly critical of this, the largest academy chain in the country, with 77 schools under its control. The poor performance is in spite of the fact that, as Warwick Mansell  in the Guardian has Uncovered, some chains are given advance warning of focused inspections (you need to see Warwick’s additional information in the Comment section).

 OFSTED, in a Monitoring inspection Report about Molehill Copse carried out in April, after it failed its Inspection in December, wrote “The Academy Enterprise Trust’s statement of action includes all the areas for improvement from the school’s inspection. However, the organisation of the plan is muddled. It does not set out well enough who will lead the actions, what is hoped to be achieved, how progress towards goals will be checked and how this will be done. This means it is not a useful tool for governors and senior leaders to check how well the school is doing”. About Tree Tops it wrote: “Financial issues have prevented the Principal from ensuring staff have the right resources to support their teaching. The sponsor has not acted to provide resources even temporarily to resolve this issue”.......

Published in News and Comments

Could Tree Tops Academy, a primary school in Maidstone run by the highly controversial Academies Enterprise Trust, be the worst school in England for the period of its existence over the past decade? And is it currently being run by the worst Academy Group chain? (although there is plenty of competition for both titles!).

 Tree Tops Academy 1

It has now: failed four OFSTED Inspections in ten years including the most recent one in December; seen Monitoring Inspections record damning verdicts; come fourth lowest in the country in last summer’s Key Stage Two assessments; and been issued with a pre-warning letter by the Department for Education in November, warning that standards are low and likely to remain low. The letter makes clear who is responsible: It records “Financial issues have prevented the Principal from ensuring staff have the right resources to support their teaching. The sponsor has not acted to provide resources even temporarily to resolve this issue”.

UPDATE - 4th February

Molehill Copse Primary School

Molehill Copse Primary School, Federated with Tree Tops Academy, referred to below as one of just 36 primary schools in the country to receive a Pre Warning letter from the the Secretary of State for Education, who considered that "the standards of performance at Molehill Copse Primary School are unacceptably low and are likely to remain so". The letter was sent on 16th September 2013 and recorded the very low standards reached. The letter concluded that "the school is at risk of being judged as inadequate at its next inspection if teaching and pupils' progress do not improve significantly". Nearly three months later, on 3rd December, the school was inspected again, the Report, published today  failing it on grounds of Serious Weaknesses. The Report does note there have been some improvements recently, and it appears that since the Pre-Warning letter,  AET has belatedly realised it does need to do something about the school and has put in a new Management Board to bring about improvement. This is the third OFSTED failure for Molehill Copse, previously in 2006 and 2010, but it escaped with a "Satisfactory" Grade in January 2012, just in time to be taken over by AET, under whose leadership it has clearly sunk again. 

 Academies Enterprise Trust (slogan: to make our best better) is one of the largest academy groups in the country, and is running 10 of the 36 academies which have been sent pre-warning letters from the DfE warning about low standards, along with Marlowe Academy in Ramsgate which it was effectively running at the time of the letter (see below).......

Published in News and Comments