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Displaying items by tag: academy - Kent Independent Education Advice

Sadly, yet another Principal of Sheppey Academy has lost his job, joining a long list of headteachers who have failed to crack the problems of this, the largest and most problematic of all Kent secondary schools. David Day, who proved an excellent headteacher of Wrotham School (where he was described as "a committed and inspirational head teacher” by OFSTED) before moving to Isle of Sheppey Academy in September 2011, is leaving his post at the end of this month along with his two subordinate Executive Headteachers.  In spite of his leadership of the academy, taking it out of its failed ‘Notice to Improve’ rating from 2011, this will be the fourth change of leader since 2009 when its predecessor, Minster College,  became a sponsored academy, although the problems of the school reach back many years before (see below).

Possibly of even more significance, the current sponsors, headed by Dulwich College and supported by Kent County Council and the Anglican Diocese of Canterbury are also relinquishing their roles in January when Oasis becomes sole sponsor, taking on the role of lead sponsor from 1st September. 

Published in News Archive
Saturday, 25 May 2013 08:08

What a difference three days makes

Took three days holiday this week in gap caused by half-term between preparing clients for appeals. Naturally there was a sudden outbreak of news including the following, some of which I will cover over the next couple of days:

1) Judd School announces it is considering setting up its own 11 plus tests for 2015 entry.

2) Judd school confirms no successful appeals this year.

3) Two new proposed Free Schools announced for opening in 2014 if approved. Jubilee Primary, in Maidstone, will be run by  Jubilee Church. Also the INSPIRE Special Free School will initially have 40 places and be based next to Silverbank Park in Churchill Avenue. Medway Council has worked in partnership with three schools in submitting the bid to the Department for Education: Willimaosn School Trust; Bradfields Special School; and Greenacre School. I don;t have any further details yet.

4) Kent County Council has begun its consultation on the proposed Sevenoaks Grammar School satellite

5) The usual assassins keep putting the boot into the Trinity Christian Free  School on the 11 plus website (not sure what it has to do with the 11 plus!) proposed for the same site

6) An OFSTED for Dame Janet Primary Academy in Ramsgate. formed out of Dame Janet Junior and Dame Janet Infants (failed OFSTED) receives shocking OFSTED  showing that  becoming an Academy is not the solution for everyone.

7) KCC to debate unacceptable delays in preparing Statements of Special Education Need. It is claimed that these are down to failures by the medical services to provide timely appropriate evdence. 

Published in Peter's Blog

Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, has argued publicly that government run academies in Kent are funded more generously than schools managed by KCC, placing the latter at a disadvantage. I have uncovered, with the assistance of Kent on Sunday, a further stiff financial penalty imposed on KCC for some schools seeking to become academies. A letter from the Department for Education, posted on the proposed Ebbsfleet Academy website (contained in the only news item on the website!) dated May 2012 states: “We are working with Kent County Council to resolve an issue relating to PFI funding, which the Department for Education is keen to resolve as soon as possible. The Minister recently wrote to the Council, highlighting that holding up the school’s transition to Academy status does not help the Authority’s financial situation and poses risks to students’ interests. We are sure this is not the intention”. As a result, there is currently no new academy, and Swan Valley Community School in Swanscombe has encountered a variety of problems partly caused by the delay, as described in a previous article I wrote.  

What this really means is that KCC, which has responsibility for funding the Private Financial Initiative (PFI) contract for the Swan Valley Community school, is expected to still finance it if and when the school passes out of KCC control to central government. This in spite of the fact that as academies are fully funded by government, KCC would receive no income to pay what is called the “affordability gap”.......

Published in News Archive

As Reported below, the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), which effectively ran The Marlowe Academy in the last school year, made limited progress in its attempts to improve standards at the academy, overseeing a failed OFSTED. It then made limited progress in two subsequent monitoring Inspections and paved the way for the most recent barely adequate one.  

It also took over three Maidstone primary schools in April 2012, including the previous Bell Wood Primary School which became Tree Tops Academy. OFSTED has now carried out its first monitoring Inspection eight months after AET took over the school which was previously in Special Measures. The summary conclusion of "Having considered all the evidence I am of the opinion that at this time the academy is not making enough progress in raising standards for all pupils. This visit has raised serious concerns and the timing of the academy’s next inspection may be affected" is surely an indictment of the academy chain's input to this school. 

Some excerpts from the Report:.....

Published in Peter's Blog
Sunday, 20 January 2013 07:22

Marlowe Academy - Does it have a future?

The Marlowe Academy failed its OFSTED for the second time, in November 2011, and it was obvious from the Report and letters to parents that Governors and Trustees were still failing to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. You will find my comments on the first monitoring inspection in March which did nothing to dispel that theory. The third monitoring Inspection report has now been published, and this, together with student numbers and comments made to me,  lead me to seriously ask the question - does the Marlowe Academy have a future? On numbers alone, it is difficult to see how the school is financially viable, with the intake falling year on year to the disastrous September 2012 figure of 62, filling just over a third of the 180 places available. This is a further drop of 19 children from the 81 places offered in  March, although this figure was disputed by a senior member of the Academy who either didn't understand the seriousness of the problem, or was misled into believing the take up was much higher. 

Unsurprisingly, the link to OFSTED Reports on the Academy website is non-functioning (its been fixed since this item was fist published!), and there is no mention of the recent Monitoring Inspection. This Inspection underlines the problem of viability, revealing that .......

Published in Peter's Blog

Update 23 November

On Wednesday, Kent County Council Education Cabinet Committee approved the merger of Castle Community College and Walmer Science College, although as explained below, it is apparent that this means the effective closure of Walmer. The two schools will be combined on the Castle Community site with a major PFI funding allocation of some £20 million for renovation, to provide new buildings, this being one of only two Kent secondary schools to benefit from this particular scheme this year. You will find the papers for the committee, including parental comments, together with  a webcast of the debate will be found here.  Understandably there is anger in Walmer......

Published in News Archive

(UPDATED: 12 September)

Kent on Sunday published an abbreviated version of a prepared article last Sunday,  on KCC's handing over of low performing primary schools to academy trusts; the full article being reproduced here.

What follows is an update and amplification of that article, carried out as time permits.

Kent County Council is quietly resolving the problem of low performing primary schools by handing them over to sponsors, mainly large academy trusts, in a dramatic change to the face of Kent education. Interestingly, in Kent on Sunday this week, in a comment on this article, a spokeswoman for KCC is reported as saying "school governors, through discussion with the Department for Education and KCC, make their own decisions to become an academy". Rubbish, as many governing bodies can testify. Government has made clear that low performing schools are required to become academies (no freedom for governor choice there, as made public by the case of Downhills Primary in London and many others); governors report that KCC has put pressure on them to convert; some headteachers who have resisted conversion have "left" their schools; some governing bodies have been removed - in any case conversion sees new governors appointed, sometimes with members who have nothing to do with the local community, usually with a reduction in the number of parent governors, sometimes to as few as one.  All this too often without the knowledge of parents who have no right of consultation over the change. 

A classic example is Dame Janet Community Infant School in Ramsgate, placed in Special Measures by OFSTED in January. A recent follow up OFSTED inspection is highly critical describing progress as inadequate.  KCC ought to have.....

Published in News Archive
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 07:38

Academies: the stuff of nightmares

I have recently come across a website dedicated to tracking academies, run by the Anti Academies Alliance, and parts of it make grim reading. One has to take into account that its aim is clearly in the title, but even so, some of the information it presents on academies, and particularly on sponsors of academies is very frightening for the future of education. Probably the biggest sponsor of academies is Lord Harris, with the introduction of the article on his chain beginning: "The academy schools movement is increasingly dominated by chains. These self-styled ‘charities’ are in reality ‘edu-businesses’ paying fat cat salaries to their CEOs, developing corporate branding and seeking aggressive expansion in the education ‘market’. This briefing looks at the Harris Federation.........

Published in Peter's Blog
Thursday, 29 December 2011 18:11

The Skinners School - a remarkable stand off

Following further problems at The Skinners School's admission appeals last summer for entry in Year Seven September 2011, as the Ombudsman has once again become involved and currently the Governors of the school are refusing to accept his recommendation. I initially commented on these appeals earlier in the year.  This is not the first time the Ombudsman has been involved with the Skinners School and he published a critical Report on the appeal proceedings in 2007, reporting on serious maladministration by the Governors of the school. In 2008, there were two successful complaints about the Governing Body and/or the Appeal Panel, in 2009 there were 4, and in 2010 there was one. Appeal Panels are organised by the Governing Body itself, which has strong representation from the Skinners Company of London. No other Kent or Medway School has had successful complaints upheld in more than two of these four years, the vast majority having none at all. You will find numbers of all successful complaints against Foundation or Voluntary Aided Schools here

However, ...........

Published in News Archive
Wednesday, 07 December 2011 12:25

Marlowe Academy

The Marlowe Academy, in Ramsgate, currently a failing school, having been served with a 'Notice to Improve' by OFSTED in October, is evidently in further difficulties. Principal, Ian Johnson, left suddenly last summer, although he enjoyed a high profile as an unofficial spokesman for Academies, and had served as Acting Principal at the Spires academy in Canterbury - a matter of criticism in the Marlowe OFSTED Report because of his absence from his prime role. In May, there was a monitoring Inspection which found satisfactory progress from the 'Notice to Improve' but did not change the status. 

What was not made known at the time ............

Published in News Archive
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