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Displaying items by tag: academy - Kent Independent Education Advice
Saturday, 07 November 2015 18:25

The Griffin Academies Trust

The Griffin Academies Trust,which runs 12 schools, six in the Midlands and six in the South East including four in Medway, has been heavily criticised for its financial arrangements.  An article in the Guardian reports that in just two years the Trust paid over £700,000 to a company jointly owned by its two chief executives, one whom is Elizabeth Lewis, previously a headteacher of Dover Grammar School for Girls. Three other companies in which trustees of the charity have majority interests received smaller payments that amounted to around £100,000 for “educational consultancy services’”, the trust’s accounts show. The article continues:....

Published in Peter's Blog
Unfortunately, the Department for Education has taken to publishing monthly data on academies four weeks later than in previous years, so the September information has only recently been made available. A total of eleven new academies have been created in Kent and Medway in August and September. One new Free School has opened in Ramsgate, along with the Medway University Technical College.
 
You will find  a list of Academies and proposed academies here, Free Schools here, and UTCs here........
Published in News and Comments

Three new primary academies this month, all new church academies in Kent. They are: Reculver CofE Primary, sponsored by the Anglican Diocese of Canterbury; and two converter academies, St John’s Catholic (Gravesend) and St Mary’s Catholic (Whitstable) both joining the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership, which is now the largest academy chain across the two authorities. Rivermead School, a Special School in Gillingham for children with complex needs, has applied to become a converter academy, the third Medway Special School to go down this route. St Mary’s Catholic Primary in Canterbury has also applied to be a converter and will be joining the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership in due course.  

You will find a full list of Kent and Medway Academies and academy proposals here, and Free Schools here.

Other news on academies, Free Schools and the Medway UTC follows……

Published in News and Comments

The new draft Education and Adoption Bill which includes provision to force failing or coasting schools to become academies, without local or parental views being taken into account, has many flaws, possibly the most serious one being that there is no evidence that, overall, academisation improves standards. You will find plenty of evidence to support this assertion on the Anti Academies Alliance website, admittedly a partisan organisation, but one that carries out a powerful analysis of outcomes.

Certainly not an original view, but I strongly believe that the key to a good school is good leadership and the status of the school is irrelevant if the resources delivered to perform the job are similar.

The second key flaw in the argument is that there is no consideration of what to do with failing academies, and we have plenty of these in Kent and Medway, most recently, Oasis Academy Skinner Street in Gillingham, classified ‘Requires Improvement’ under Medway and handed over, with many of its fellow underperforming schools, to academy chains.

oasis academy skinner street

The most recent OFSTED Report on Oasis Skinner Street, published today, places it in Special Measures, so where next for the school? The Report does not mince its words: “Leaders and governors have an unrealistic view of how well the academy is performing. Leaders do not check weak teaching or underachievement sufficiently strongly to address them promptly”. The Marlowe Academy is of course to close after 10 years of providing a sub-standard education to its students, with little happening from government to force improvement in this period. Castle Community College in Deal, fast-tracked as an Outstanding school to become an academy, spectacularly fell from Outstanding to Special Measures in 2014, in just three years.

There are of course many examples of highly successful academies and county maintained schools in Kent and Medway that are highlighted elsewhere in this website, but this article is written primarily to look at the implications of the proposed Bill for local failing or underperforming schools, identified below…….

Published in News and Comments
Friday, 22 May 2015 21:14

Academy and Free School News May 2015

This article looks at the five new Kent academies opened since my previous Report, changes in ownership of academies, Lilac Sky, and new and proposed Free Schools.

New Academies

New academies open since February are: Beaver Green Primary in Ashford, sponsored by Swale Academy Trust; Charlton CofE Primary Dover, (Diocese of Canterbury); Lydd Primary (Village Academy Trust); and two Converter stand-alone primaries, Chilton Primary, Ramsgate; and Godinton Primary, Ashford.

There are new converter applications from Manor Community Primary, Dartford and St Mary’s Catholic Primary, Canterbury.

You will find a full list of open and proposed Kent and Medway Academies here, and of the academy groups operating in the county here, although the latter picture changes rapidly and I would be grateful for any updates or amendments that need to be made.

Published in News and Comments
Monday, 20 April 2015 00:20

Medway Academy Monopoly Continues

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the abdication of responsibility for the Bishop of Rochester Academy in Chatham, as the Diocese of Rochester, the previous main sponsor, decided to abandon its attempts to improve the standards and popularity of the school. The Academy has now been passed on to the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, headed up by The Rochester Grammar School, incorporating Chatham Grammar School for Boys and several primary schools.

Now comes news of a surprising merger between two more Medway Academy Trusts, an agreement having been reached to merge The Thomas Aveling Academy Trust (TA) with the Fort Pitt Grammar School Academy Trust (FP), under the catchy title of Fort Pitt Thomas Aveling Academy Trust. 

Thomas Aveling

What is notable in a Local Authority whose academy chains are currently dominated by grammar schools (the third chain being the Sir Joseph Williamson’s Academy Trust), is that this time the non-selective school appears to be at least equal in status.

Published in Peter's Blog

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
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 22:14

Closure of Oasis Hextable Academy is announced

UPDATED: 20th February 2015

The Oasis Academy Trust has agreed with government that it can close the Oasis Hextable Academy because the school is failing to attract numbers. The reason it is failing to attract numbers is that the two neighbouring and competing schools, Wilmington Academy and Longfield Academy to the north and east have been turned round from being very unpopular, and have now become two of the most oversubscribed schools in the county.

In addition, Orchards Academy in Swanley to the south, once the failing Swanley Technology School, has also improved with steadily rising numbers, with Knole Academy further south in Sevenoaks, picking up some aspiring families who can’t get their children into Wilmington or Longfield.

Oasis Hextable

Sadly, Oasis Hextable, for which I used to do admission appeals regularly a few years ago, has gone the other way, certainly in terms of parental perception. I now talk with families for whom Oasis is a last or no choice, across a patch where nearly every other school is full, apart from one with which Oasis vies in unpopularity. There was an upturn in numbers for the 2014 entry, with the school being taken out of Special Measures when a “Requires Improvement” assessment  in 2013 was achieved  after Alan Brooks, Executive Head of Fulston Manor School in Sittingbourne, had overseen major improvements at the school. Unfortunately for the Hextable children, he left after a year, for Oasis to take over. It appears that 2015 admissions due out on 2nd March, will offer no solace.

Kent County Council has made clear its view that the school should not be closed, as the increase in population over the next few years will certainly increase demand for places across the District. However, KCC has no voice in the decision, nor in the future of the site, with the premises on a 125 year lease to Oasis, who could decide to use them for different purposes........

Published in News and Comments

This article looks at two new Catholic academies in Kent and two fresh applications to become academies in Medway, for January.

It also considers the progress of the North School sponsorship by Swale Academy Trust, together with other issues relating to change of status of Private Finance Initiative schools, some of which will place a further financial burden on those schools remaining with KCC.

The North 2

The North School

Published in News and Comments

The Anti Academies Alliance is reporting increased resistance to enforced academisation, as typified by Twydall Primary School in Gillingham. The school was placed in Special Measures by OFSTED back in March and has had two critical OFSTED Monitoring Reports since then, although Key Stage 2 results in the summer were good. The headteacher resigned shortly after the second Monitoring Inspection, the Chairman of Governors having resigned earlier, both actions appearing to free up governors to take positive actions to improve the school in their efforts to take it out of Special Measures.

Twdall

 

The Governing Body has since been the centre of much activity, as Medway Council is attempting to impose the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT), headed up by The Rochester Grammar School and All Faiths Children’s Community Primary school, as sponsors. It appears that governors are not unhappy with the concept of becoming a sponsored academy, but are increasingly resistant to this being TSAT. Allegations that two members of the Governing Body who have now resigned, had conflicts of interest with TSATs involvement, the replacement Chairman also facing controversy over his role, have not helped.

The arrival of an Interim Headteacher, Mrs Ann Pratt, with an excellent record and clear ideas for turning the school round appears to have had a very positive effect on the school, along with a more united and focused governance, which is now very open with parents about its activities, including a full written consultation, about academisation. The Governing Body section of the school website is a model of its kind, including copies of GB Minutes, and indeed the whole website now projects a very transparent and positive image of the school.  A Facebook page about the consultation contains some very frank comments about perceptions of TSAT……

Published in Peter's Blog
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