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Displaying items by tag: academy

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

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.

Twdall

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.

Twdall

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
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