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Displaying items by tag: academy - Kent Independent Education Advice

Most of the activity of conversion to academies this year has been in the primary sector, as those secondaries looking to convert have already done so. There is one batch of secondary schools that, even if they are willing to convert, are still in difficulty about doing so. These schools were built under Private Finance Initiative and would incur heavy charges for themselves and KCC if they converted, as explained in two previous articles I wrote last year and a follow up to come.  

Once again, the majority of the nine conversions listed below are to join church academy groups either by federation, or under sponsorship for underperforming or failing schools. 

My information pages on academies and Academy Groups provide a comprehensive list of all academies open or in development across Kent and Medway. 

Currently in Kent, 72% of secondary schools and 28% of primary schools have converted to academies, are in progress or are Free Schools. The corresponding figures for Medway are !00% secondary and 42% primary. These figures are based on my own records and are not official. 

I also comment on three schools that have run into difficulties over possible conversions - Twydall Primary in Gillingham; Kings Farm Primary in Gravesend and The North School in Ashford; together with the proposed new Free School in Sittingbourne for children with high functioning autism.......

Published in News and Comments

Governors of Twydall Primary School were asked at their Governing Body meeting last night to approve a binding resolution at the GB meeting last evening, for the school to become a Sponsored Academy.  The resolution was put by Medway Council which appeared to be trying to steamroller the decision through, as explained in my previous article here, only to back down on its demand at the last moment.


In the event, and following wide media coverage, articles on this website, a Facebook Campaign and a parental demonstration against the vote last evening, Governors resolved not to put the motion to the vote, but to postpone any decision until there had been a full consultation next term on whether to go down this path.

Many other schools have come under similar pressures and caved in, and this outcome shows that there can be another way, a precedent that may well be copied elsewhere in the country.....

Published in Peter's Blog
Friday, 25 July 2014 00:00

Social Mobility and Kent schools

Two issues of social mobility affecting Kent children were in the news yesterday.

Firstly, the proposal by government to extend its current freedoms for academies and free schools to prioritise admission for some disadvantaged children to all schools. I was able on Radio Kent to identify the one Kent academy, a grammar school, that has already gone down this route, However, I cannot see those oversubscribed church schools where the freedom would be most likely to have an effect, taking advantage of this opportunity to increase social cohesion and mobility. 

Secondly, the Sutton Foundation, a highly respected education charity identified the best and worst academy chains in the country for improving disadvantaged pupils, finding a huge variation in the performance of sponsored academies run by the 31 long standing chains examined. One of the of the best performers, the Leigh Academy Trust,  operates in Kent. Of those don’t who perform as well as maintained schools, five operate in Kent, including one very surprising chain based in the county......

Published in Peter's Blog
Decision Update Published here

I have been contacted by a number of parents since my previous article on the likelihood of Twydall Primary school becoming a fast track sponsored academy, run by the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, headed up by The Rochester Grammar School and the All Faiths Community Primary School in Strood. At a Governing Body meeting on Thursday 24th July, with just seven days notice, a binding resolution forcing the school to become a sponsored academy will be debated, three additional Local Authority Governors having been added to try and ensure the motion is carried.  Parents are not being consulted although, at a meeting to discuss the OFSTED Report there was a strong majority against the idea.


Clearly, Medway Council is trying to force the takeover in a hurry, irrespective of the key 2013-14 data, which unofficially shows over 80% of the school’s pupils achieving the government floor standard of Level 4 in both English and maths, in the top quarter of all Medway primary schools. In addition, 51% of pupils passed the Medway Test against the 25% average across the Borough. This in a school that has a much higher than average number of children with special needs and with statements of SEN, and is designated as a centre for children with physical disabilities and complex medical needs. The school remains very popular and was oversubscribed with first choices for its 75 spaces.........

Published in Peter's Blog
Thursday, 17 July 2014 00:00

Academies and Free School News July 2014

This is very much a church month, as both the Church of England and the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark remove more schools from the oversight of Kent County Council, and take over direct control of them. Most of these schools are sponsored; some are Converter academies who have joined in federation.  

You will find further details of the academy groups here, and a full list of academies and those in progress here. Details are as follows: ..............

Published in News and Comments


Four new applicants to become converter academies, together with further information on the new Jubilee Free School In Maidstone and Leigh UTC.

Published in News and Comments

Although I am no fan of Free Schools in principle, I can quite understand why a group of people of Deal has proposed a new Free School in the area, with age range from Nursery through to 18 plus, following the disaster at Castle Community College.

This article also looks at other new academies  and Free Schools opened and proposed,  along with several snippets of news....

Published in News and Comments
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 00:00

Academy and Free School News April 2014

Once again this article only just makes it into the month, as I have been overwhelmed with concerns about primary school provision, and other news some of which is published or to come shortly.

Academy News

Three new Kent academies have opened this month, two sponsored by Lilac Sky Academy Trust: Morehall Primary School in Folkestone and Richmond Primary School in Sittingbourne. The third is the converter academy, Whitehill Primary School in Gravesend federated with Gravesend Grammar School.

In Medway there are two new stand-alone converter academies, Bradfields Special School and Delce Junior School.

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Dover has also applied to become an academy, presumably joining the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership, which appears to be taking over all local Catholic schools.

Reculver CofE Primary School and St Mary of Charity CofE (Aided) Primary Schools are to be sponsored by the Diocese of Canterbury, with West Kingsdown CofE VC Primary School going to the Diocese of Rochester, as the churches take over an ever growing proportion of schools from KCC. Cuxton Community Junior School is to become an academy sponsored by the Primary First Trust, a multi academy group running academies in South East London. The troubled Warren Wood Community Primary School is to be taken over by the Greenacre Academy Trust. All of these schools have had a recent troubled history, some described in this website, which you can find using the search facility.

Free School News

No new developments this month, except to record the initial success of Kent’s Free Schools against recent national debate about the number of empty spaces in Free Schools........

Published in News and Comments

Kent County Council has submitted hard-hitting written evidence  to the Government Select Committee on Education’s inquiry into Academies and Free Schools which began on Wednesday last week. It explores “the potential atomisation and fragmentation of the education system” – a very evocative image. The Guardian calls its views on Free Schools ‘withering’ and, with last week’s news about the culling of sixth form courses for financial reasons, whilst the Free School budget appears to have no bounds, KCC makes some very good points on this aspect. Perhaps the money that state schools would have to find to keep schools open for nine hours or even taking Public School Common Entrance Exams, would be better spent on reinstating foreign languages, economics, music and other important sixth form curriculum courses all dear to Mr Gove’s heart, that have bitten the dust.

Much of the evidence provided is concerned with the problem of accountability and what to do with underperforming or failing academies, taking as an exemplar the surely non-viable Marlowe Academy in Ramsgate, now down to fewer than 30% of its places filled this year.

Kent on Sunday published an article expanding on these issues, which you will find here, however, to pick up some of the issues in the article ........

Published in News and Comments

John Wallis

My own view, scarcely original, is that a school succeeds through the quality of its leadership, rather than its status as an academy, free school or maintained school. My current nomination for best performing school in Kent is the John Wallis CofE Academy in Ashford (my hometown, so I am one of the few that know who John Wallis was!). Yes, its OFSTED published last week was only ‘Good’, not ‘Outstanding’ but the school replaced the previous Christ Church School and Linden Grove Primary both in Special Measures under KCC control just over three years ago and has travelled a great distance in that time. It is only Kent's second all through, children ages 3-19, academy. OFSTED sets the scene by describing the school population's characteristics: “The proportion of students known to be eligible for the pupil premium (additional funding provided by the government to help nationally underperforming groups such as students eligible for free school meals and children who are looked after) is considerably above the national average; close to 80% of students are of a White British heritage. While the proportion of students from minority ethnic groups is below average, the proportion who speaks English as an additional language is well above average; The proportion of disabled students and those with special educational needs supported through school action is well above average. The proportion of students supported at school action plus or with a statement of special educational needs is also well above average”.

In other words, this is a school flourishing in an area that includes much deprivation, and where many would dismiss the school and its students as bound to fail, because of the very high proportion of disadvantaged and SEN pupils. Other schools with a similar intake do fail because of low expectations and poor leadership. John Wallis shows what can be done to overcome disadvantage.......

Published in Peter's Blog
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