Supporting Families

Peter Read

 New Article on Governance here
 
Further Update: Folkestone Academy couldn't wait to put Seamus Murphy in charge of Folkestone Academy until January, as announced, below. The Trust website states he is already Executive Principal (beginning of November).
Updates: A piece of good news for Turner Schools at last with Ofsted finding Morehall Primary School Good. This is countered by the two Turner primary schools having the highest percentage vacancies in Kent (67% for Martello, 73% for Morehall). However, in spite of a temporary article in September reporting excellent progress in GCSE performance at Folkestone Academy, this has not materialised, but the school has gone backwards since Turner Schools took over.  
Wesley Carroll, the fourth Principal of Folkestone Academy since it was taken over by Turner Schools in May 2017 is to stand down in January, reportedly for family reasons, having been appointed a year ago after extensive advertising to find an Executive Principal for the school failed to find a suitable candidate. He was previously Vice Principal for just over a year, a very limited senior experience for the post and will revert to this title where he will focus on the Year 11 GCSE group (see below), presumably because there is no one else capable of this middle management task. The 2019 staff list on the school website, possibly in preparation for this shows him as Co-Principal, but there is no mention of who he is ‘co’ with!
TurnerSchools
He will be succeeded by Seamus Murphy, appointed six months ago as Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Turner Schools, with his salary paid for by the Department for Education for what appear to be invalid reasons. His initial appointment was announced as being designed to allow the CEO, Dr Jo Saxton, to concentrate on curriculum matters surely a position well away from the strategic role her title demands, although reports suggest she still keeps a tight control of events. What happens next to fill his role, or was it always unnecessary and just for short term expediency in the first place?
 
Meanwhile, Professor Lygo, billed as one of the founders of the Turner Trust and Chairman of Directors left the Trust suddenly in the summer, along with two other Directors, without any public acknowledgement or mention of their contribution to the Trust, after an emergency meeting of the Board of Directors, see below. 
Tuesday, 01 October 2019 17:58

2019 Kent Secondary Allocations: Update

Back in March, I was unable to report on the levels of oversubscription of first choices at Kent secondary schools because of KCC's decision not to allow small numbers through the system, but produced initial reports for Non-Selective and Grammar schools setting out partial data and views. I now have fuller information, although the same issue may mean there are small discrepancies. There was no problem with vacancy data.

I have considerably updated the two articles which have so far been read by 24,567 browsers, incorporating fresh material and comment, including many 2019 appeal outcomes. I am now able to publish lists of the most oversubscribed grammar and non-selective schools in Kent, the vacancy lists being unchanged.

You will find lists of the 15 Kent non-selective schools turning away more than 50 first choices, and the 14 grammars with more than 25 disappointed first choices in comprehensive articles via the links.

Index

69% of the 18 Kent secondary schools inspected by Ofsted in 2018-19 were assessed as Good or Outstanding. Once again this was better overall than the national average of the previous year which was 67% in 2017-18. The Kent schools were also well up on the national figure of 62% from September- March in 2018-19 (latest figures available). The two Medway schools inspected improved from Requires Improvement (RI) to Good. The 16 Kent non-selective schools were also above the national average overall for Good or Outstanding schools inspected in September to March this year, at 65% equalling the overall national figure in 2017-18.

Meopham 2

You will find fuller data and a list of the Kent and Medway secondary Ofsted Inspections below. There was just one Outstanding secondary Ofsted, with Meopham School having risen from the depths of Inadequate in 2012. The Towers School has also improved, from RI to Good. Four schools dropped in standard including the two grammars inspected, with The Malling School being looked at in more detail below.  I also look at the notorious Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey, RI,  which appears fortunate not to have been found Inadequate.

In Medway there were just two inspections,  St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive School and The Robert Napier School, with both seeing welcome improvements to Good from RI. I have rightly been very critical of St John Fisher in the past, but it appears to have now turned a corner as explained below.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019 06:26

Disappearing Heads in North Kent (Part Two)

A year ago I wrote an article entitled ‘Disappearing Headteachers in North Kent’ about the headteachers of three schools: Copperfield Academy, Fairview Community Primary School and Tunbury Primary School. Each had seen their headteachers removed suddenly. It turned out to be one of the most read news item on the site over the past two years, with a multitude of comments from unhappy parents, that are well worth reading because of the issues they highlight (especially at Tunbury). For different reasons, each school or headteacher has come to my attention again recently. There may be other schools which have suffered the same fate more recently; please feel free to let me know.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 12:31

Another Futile Attack on Weald of Kent Annexe

Note: I have updated this article again, amending part of it relating to grammar school provision in the Whitstable/Herne Bay area in blue below.

I was interviewed on BBC SE last week, and KMTV this evening about the latest scheme dreamed up by Comprehensive Future and Joanne Bartley to destabilise the now well-established, Weald of Kent Grammar School Annexe in Sevenoaks, although the main target is probably to damage the chances of the proposed new annexe in Whitstable/Herne Bay intended to meet the needs of this rapidly growing area. 

Apparently the organisation is ‘looking into the possibility’  of seeking legal advice on its false claim that the Annexe is a separate school, although the two bases, like other split site schools in Kent, share the same headteacher and governors, with staff and leadership operating across the two sites, with the same culture and curriculum, and most importantly 360 children already in the annexe who know they are ‘Weald of Kent’  girls. However, the crunch legal argument that most easily disposes of the false claim is likely to be that separate schools have to have separate admission schemes. The Weald of Kent Grammar Admission process  makes it crystal clear that applications and offers of places are made to the school with no reference to preferred site, the same arrangement as for other split site schools in Kent.  

The letter that follows this article sets out in some detail the shameful process by which Paddock Wood Primary School converted to become an academy within the Leigh Academy Trust (LAT) on 1st September, along with Horsmonden Primary. Paddock Wood applied to become an Academy on 6th December 2018, without the legally required Governing Body consent, although the consultation to consider possible conversion only began in May this year, five months later (surely a pointless exercise!).

Leigh Logo

 

 

The chairman of governors sent an email in the cover up to what was in effect a secret process, stating: '"We should have had FGB approval to apply instead of simply a quorate for the academy working part [a sub group of the governing body]. I think this was an error" (!!!!). In fact probably making the whole process unlawful. Subsequently, it is alleged that governors made up a fictional meeting (for which neither they nor their solicitors have been able to provide minutes) at which the resolution was supposed to have occurred, despite one of the governors who  was alleged to be present, stating in writing that it never took place. The Information Commissioner was highly critical of various aspects of the process, whilst admitting its findings were too late to influence proceedings. Both the Department for Education and the Regional Schools Commissioner also had concerns, but again were too late in considering these to  affect proceedings. 

The Delce Academy story continues to unfold, one of my correspondents having sent me a Medway Council Cabinet Meeting Minute from last year. This contains the astonishing information that the Council Cabinet appeared to approve a commercial loan to the Academy of £400,000 to fund capital expenditure on the installation of a four classroom block of modular buildings at the Academy for its new Infant provision which was never going to be financially  viable.

The provision would have seriously damaged the two Council run infant schools which feed into the Junior section of the school, if it were not for the appalling standards to which the academy has sunk under the leadership of the Castle Trust. It will still damage them if the school recovers under its new management, having been removed from the Castle Trust by the Regional Schools Commissioner, because of its poor performance.  Currently the arrangements have cast a cloud over the whole of the area with a decline of nearly 20% in the number of children joining these three local schools since before the new provision arrived.

Updated 21 August

Back in December, parents of Paddock Wood and Horsmonden Primaries were told that governors of the two schools were considering options for their future, including academisation, although the DFE website showed that applications to become  academies with the Leigh Academies Trust had already been submitted, and approved on 14th March this year.

There then followed five months of confusion and misinformation, with a Consultation ending on 3rd May nearly two months after the application had been approved, and culminating in the Chair of Governors and the CEO of the LAT launching factually incorrect attacks on KCC and Roger Gough, the Cabinet Member for Education at KCC. To date the only indication on the LAT website that either school is going to join the Trust is a brief comment by the Chief Executive in the Trust summer Newsletter, welcoming the two schools for September, although they do not even appear in the list of 'Forthcoming Academies'.  The primary schools are both too shy to mention it, possibly knowing the decision is not universally popular. 

Monday, 19 August 2019 06:23

Academy and Free School News, August 2019

This article looks at news items since my previous Academy article in June, together with various happenings earlier in the year that I have not covered before. 

It includes academy conversions at Cage Green, Rolvenden, Brent, Dartford Bridge, All Souls CofE and Wainscott (Medway) Primary Schools. It also considers events at Leigh Academies Trust (with another article on the events at Paddock Wood and Horsmonden primaries to come). It looks at changes at: Barming, Hersden and Lansdowne Primary Schools, together with Phoenix Junior Academy in Medway (shades of the Delce Academy scandal); Bennett Memorial Diocesan School (and its CEO); Cranbrook School; Norton Knatchbull School; Rainham Mark Grammar and St Joseph Williamson’s Schools, both in Medway; finishing up with a brief look at Maidstone & Oakwood Park Grammars and Ebbsfleet Academy. 

Updated 21st August following developments at Turner Schools. You will find a new item on Turner Schools here

You will find an important update to the Delce story here, with additional material here.

The National Schools Commissioner, on visits to Folkestone Academy and the Turner Free School is reported to have praised the progress of the two schools without apparently noticing the many failures documented on this site. These amount to nearly 10% of all the academies he has visited since he was appointed last September out of a total of  8,678. In a fresh controversy, the Turner Free School lost a Vice Principal, in employment for just eight weeks from the opening of the school last September, who left the school and teaching, and subsequently made a serious allegation about the school about the reason he left. According to the school he has withdrawn the allegation after this article was originally published, bringing it to light. 

I wrote about the Ofsted Inspection that placed Delce Academy in Special Measures, in June, describing what appeared to be a self-destruct mechanism on the part of the school and the Castle Trust which ran it. I concluded: ‘This is another Academy Trust that is not fit for purpose and the Regional Schools Commissioner should be considering re-brokering it to a more competent body’. Last week the Trust wrote to parents to tell them the school was being transferred to the Inspire Academy Trust.

Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey was once again found to Require Improvement in its recent Ofsted inspection, but what specifically caught my eye was the  phrase: ‘however, recent changes to the support available for vulnerable pupils have led to a reduction in fixed-term exclusions’. Hardly consistent with my recent FOI request that found a further increase from the previous year when Oasis had the second highest number and proportion in Kent! The inspection took place shortly after a fundamental structural change for September was announced which will see all Year 7 to 11 pupils taught on a single site, the current two bases being nearly two miles apart. This positive decision is only made possible by a remarkable decline of 550 pupils on roll since Oasis took over in 2013, a loss of over a quarter of the total since then. 

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