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Displaying items by tag: Holmesdale - Kent Independent Education Advice

 Swale Academies Trust (SAT) has secured a second Ofsted Outstanding school, after Meopham was found Outstanding in January (published earlier this week). This makes KCC’s decision to block SAT from taking over the failed Holmesdale School for most of 2018 look even more shocking as the school blundered from bad to worse under its control during the year. 

Meopham School had suffered from poor leadership for as long as I can remember, culminating in 2012 when it was placed in Special Measures. An ‘Anywhere but Meopham’ cry was regularly made to me by parents seeking advice on how to avoid the school. SAT took it over the following year. It has rapidly improved ever since, with a ‘Good’ Ofsted Report just two years later, followed by a Short Inspection last year. Meopham has been delivering excellent GCSE results for its pupils for the past three years, being the second and third best performing non-selective school in the county at Progress 8 and in the top seven for Attainment 8 in each year. Rightly it has now seen last year’s Short Inspection converted to Outstanding. Not surprisingly, it has become heavily oversubscribed with 224 first choices for its 140 places for September. A new Chair of Governors was appointed last September, Diana Choulerton, an Education Consultant who until recently was one of Her Majesty's Inspectors. Swale Academies Trust doesn't take chances!

By contrast, after Holmesdale School was placed in Special Measures a year ago, the school and its pupils were disgracefully hung out to dry by Kent County Council. KCC refused to hand the management of the school over to SAT even though it had been selected as the Sponsoring School when Holmesdale was served with an Academy Order and left it devoid of proper support until grudgingly yielding it to SAT at the end of November.

As well as further details below, I also look at the performance of Swale Academies Trust in an attempt to see why KCC was so strongly opposed to them  being involved with Holmesdale School. 

Published in News and Comments
Friday, 28 December 2018 19:06

Holmesdale School: Pupils Failed Yet Again

Follow up article on new serious issues here

Holmesdale school families have been failed by Kent County Council and the school’s governors and leaders ever since the Ofsted Report of March 2014 found the school to be Good. Since then the school went into a spiral of decline up to and after it was placed in Special Measures by Ofsted in February 2018, which I explored in detail in a previous article here.  My analysis included critical areas of decline over the interim that should have alerted KCC to the problem, but they failed to act and pupils' futures were sacrificed. Following the Ofsted Inspection the Regional School Commissioner (RSC) placed an Academy Order on the school naming Swale Academies Trust (SAT) as the preferred sponsor.

Holmesdale

Subsequently, the school had an Ofsted Monitoring Inspection in July which found that ‘leaders and managers are not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures’. Unsurprisingly, the Provisional 2018 GCSE results showed that Progress 8, the key government measure of performance, was -0.86, officially ‘well below average’  and the second worst in the county. Amongst then many issues identified, The Ofsted Report refers to major concerns with persistent absence, hardly surprising perhaps with the poor quality of education being offered. These are amongst the factors I identified leading up to the Special Measures finding.  Most shockingly, Holmesdale had lost 34% of its Year 7 roll by the time they reached Year 11, by some way the highest figure in the county. The headteacher has chosen to leave at short notice, for Christmas, and there are reports of severe staff shortages for January.

Also, since February 2018 there has been unacceptable wrangling between KCC and various other bodies over who should supply school improvement support, which was only resolved at the end of November, so that the school was left rudderless in between and went downhill further. There is considerable risk to the school with still falling numbers and Swale Academies Trust will have to work hard to make the school once again financially viable by attracting pupils. . 

Published in News and Comments