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Displaying items by tag: Hartsdown

The welcome news that Hartsdown has been awarded a Good Ofsted assessment by Inspectors, is now public although there has is still a delay in publishing it on the Ofsted Website. In October 2020, I wrote about the apparent ‘Damascene conversion’ of headteacher Matthew Tate as the evidence mounted that the school was changing from its previous and failing ‘Tough Love’ model. The school website has been transformed to reflect this new positive model, exclusions have dropped dramatically, as have the number of children being withdrawn for Home Education, academic performance has improved, and it is reported that the number of first choices for admission in September has risen as parents become aware of the transformation.

Perhaps most importantly, the strong threat to the school’s existence has been withdrawn by the scrapping of the proposed Park Crescent Academy.
Hartsdown Amazing (2)
The report begins by acknowledging the previous failures: ‘Staff and pupils agree that Hartsdown has improved greatly’, before immediately moving on to a justification for the Good classification: ‘Pupils are proud to belong to the school community. They know that staff want them to aim high, so that they leave with the qualifications and experiences they need to be successful. Pupils enjoy receiving reward points for demonstrating scholarship, teamwork, resilience, integrity, vision and excellence. These are encompassed in the school’s ‘STRIVE’ ethos. The school is a warm and welcoming place. Pupils spoke enthusiastically about how much diversity is valued. Pupils enjoy working together and relationships between pupils and staff are very strong’. There is much emphasis on how the school leadership team as a whole is at the heart of improvements. 
Published in News and Comments
Sunday, 02 January 2022 18:12

Mask Wearing in Class and The Abbey School

I do hope that when the headteacher of The Abbey School in Faversham explains to the children of his school next week that they will have to wear masks in class this term, he has the courtesy to apologise to all those who his hitman punished for daring to wear masks last term, and ordered others not to do so, as reported in KentOnline. Unlike most secondary schools in the county which recognised children had endured a difficult time through two lockdowns, and needed to be supported, the Abbey adopted a very different approach and brought in one of a number of experts who style themselves 'the strictest headteacher in the country' to get tough with these recalcitrant children. As explained here, exclusions at the  soared last year, exceptionally amongst schools across the county, with Abbey subsequently introducing Mr Smith's 'Tough Love' approach after he was appointed to the school in September on a short term basis.

Published in Peter's Blog
Tuesday, 07 December 2021 07:31

The New Park Crescent Academy in Margate: Scrapped

The Government and KCC have now jointly decided that the proposed Park Crescent Academy in Margate is to be dropped as it is ‘no longer required, as I have been arguing almost alone for nearly two years, through a series of articles analysing the multiple defects in the project, including the failures in forecasting pupil population in Thanet. 

The reason given for the cancellation is that secondary student numbers in Thanet have dropped well below the levels predicted when the school was originally proposed in 2015. This was obvious in October 2019, when Sir Paul Carter, then Leader of KCC and in his last decision before stepping down from the role, vetoed the proposal on the grounds that ‘population numbers had not risen as fast as forecast’, against the advice of his officers who have championed this project, apparently unquestioningly, throughout.  In February 2020 his decision was reversed again by Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System (who would soon have a new Policy Advisor, Dr Jo Saxton)  on the interesting grounds that, although there was no need for a new school on grounds of numbers, the quality of some current secondary provision in Thanet was of poor quality and it was important to offer choice!

KCC, under its new education leadership, and Baroness Barran, the new Minister for the School System, have now agreed that the project should be cancelled for the second time, again on the grounds that there is no need for it, according to a press release from KCC on 6th December this year, ! There is no mention of the central reason given by Lord Agnew for reinstating the project, because of problems with current quality of provision, nor that the planning application had proposed a wholly impracticable school on a site that that even KCC acknowledged was constricted or constrained where space is at a premium, as I have demonstrated here

Following an FOI Request I can confirm that the cost of the land for the new school was £6.8 million and there are no constraints, apart from Planning Permissions, on how the land is to be used. See below. The next question I am chasing is how much the aborted project cost Kent taxpayers. Perhaps relevant Councillors may like to try and find out also!

Published in News and Comments

Update 7th September: I have now posted a new article looking at considerable problems with the site of the new school. 

Rather belatedly, this article looks at the government decision to overturn Paul Carter’s veto on a new secondary school in Thanet, originally explored here. This decision was received by KCC in a letter on February 13th.

As a result, the new school, provisionally called Thanet Skies Academy, will built on the somewhat restricted site of the old Royal School for the Deaf in East Margate. It is planned to open in September 2022 as a six form entry 11-16 Free School, sponsored by the Howard Trust based in Medway.

Published in News and Comments

In 2015 Government introduced Phase Two of the Priority School Building Programme, to rebuild or refurbish individual blocks of accommodation at 277 schools using capital grant and are scheduled to hand over by the end of 2023. 13 of these are in Kent and a further two are in Medway. This article looks at progress of the project in the local schools to benefit, which were as follows. Kent Primary schools: Barton Junior; Benenden Church of England Primary; Colliers Green Church of England Primary; & Platt Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School. Kent secondary schools: The Abbey School; Dover Grammar Boys; The Folkestone School for Girls; Hartsdown Technology College; High Weald Academy; Mayfield Grammar; Pent Valley Technology College; Simon Langton Girls' Grammar; Swadelands. Medway secondary schools: St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive and The Howard School.

Key words in the project are: ‘using capital grant’, as the previous programme of Building Schools for the Future relied heavily on commercial loans under the now largely discredited Private Finance Initiative. Whilst many schools benefited hugely from this project, the financial implications are crippling, as can be seen in several previous articles on this site, including here, with a full analysis by ShepwayVox here.  In this second phase more schools qualify under ‘a block replacement based on poor condition.  Only in exceptional circumstances will a whole school be replaced’ . At least three of the projects described below appear to come into the ‘exceptional circumstances’ category. At the foot of this article is a list of all the previous successful BSF Schools in Kent.

Published in News and Comments

 In his last action just twenty minutes before standing down as Leader of Kent County Council on October 17th, Paul Carter vetoed the proposal to build a new non-selective school in Thanet on the grounds that population numbers had not risen as fast as forecast. Instead he stated that what Thanet needed was better schools rather than additional ones, and that the financial cost to Kent was not necessary.

Preceding this decision, the Kent Schools Commissioning Plan 2019-2023 stated that: The new secondary Free School has been commissioned on the site of the former Royal School for the Deaf. The Howard Academy Trust has been confirmed as the successful sponsor via the DfE Free School Presumptive process. The School will open in temporary accommodation in 2020 with 120 Year 7 places, and in 2021 on the new site as a 6FE school. The support of existing schools will be required to provide temporary Year 7 places for 2019 until the new school is delivered.

KCC’s Scrutiny Committee on 19th November considered Mr Carter’s decision as reported here, pp 17 – 28, and I have considered it in detail below. The two key outcomes of the Open part of this meeting were: firstly it appears clear that the decision to veto the original decision was the right one even if the alternative proposed would create other problems and; secondly that KCC officers were seriously wrong in their number planning as demonstrated by KCC’s own Commissioning Plan and my simple charts below, their excuses for not noticing the population trend not standing up to scrutiny and with no one to be held accountable for this debacle. A subsequent closed session may well have looked at the data, but we don't know. 

Published in News and Comments
Tagged under

Hartsdown Academy’s recent OFSTED Report records that the school ‘Requires Improvement’ which, before publication I would have thought generous, because of factors I have identified in previous articles.

However, the Report focuses on the other side of the picture, with some very positive aspects, including: ‘the school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is outstanding. It has always been a strong part of the school’s work and continues to be essential to support pupils and respond to issues within the local community’.

Hartsdown Academy

 

Its main praise is reserved for Matthew Tate, the headteacher, who: ‘is transforming the school, having been in post for two years. He continues to steer its future path in the right direction with resolute energy and determination’. I am delighted to learn this, although still critical of some of the methods he uses and casualties created to achieve this outcome, as explained in my article on ‘Tough Love Academies’.

The biggest anomaly comes in the fall from Ofsted ‘Good’’ in March 2014, to the current rating, the headline then being ‘As a result of good teaching, students’ standards are broadly average at the end of Year 11. This represents good achievement from low starting points’ , the school described being not far off Outstanding.

Published in Peter's Blog