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 Last updated January 2017




When I started this page five years ago, it was a simple matter of record. As you read it, you will become aware it is now a very complicated set of data and I am only too happy to correct any errors that may have crept in. 

The policy of the new Conservative government is that all schools should become Academies or Free Schools by 2020. This means that the opinions below need revising. 

The concept of an academy becomes increasingly complicated and below I have attempted a simplistic definition only. For an excellent legal understanding go to the ‘Can of Worms’ website, where an analysis is provided by the Education Law Journal.  Of particular interest is the learned comment at the foot of the article by Sir Peter Newsam, first Chief Schools Adjudicator. One quote:it needs to be recognised that the contract system (the current academy model), as a way of running thousands of individual institutions, is expensive, inefficient and dangerous. The expense and inefficiency are becoming obvious. The danger lies in the power contracts give to an individual government minister. Annual funding, much of it discretionary, by an individual, on which a school is wholly dependent, is precisely what the 1944 Act was so careful to prevent. An academy is a government school, defined as a school created by a government minister, wholly dependent on funding approved by that minister and subject to a terminable contract with that minister”.

You will find KCC's views on Academies and Free Schools set out in their Evidence to the Select Committee Enquiry into Academies and Free Schools. I have published an article describing what is quite an outspoken document.  

An academy is a school directly funded by the Department for Education and independent of direct control by local government in England. However local government Councils are responsible for the funding formulae used to allocate funds among sections of education within an authority. An Academy may receive additional support from personal or corporate sponsors, either financially or in kind, but must meet the same National Curriculum core subject requirements as other state schools and be subject to inspection by Ofsted.Academies are self-governing and most are constituted as registered charities or operated by other educational charities.Government policy is to encourage all schools to become academies. Those regarded as the stronger can choose how they are governed (see below); those that are perceived to be underperforming or have failed an OFSTED Inspection come under considerable government pressure to become sponsored academies taken over by stronger schools or by one of the many flourishing academy groups. They lease their premises from government and set their own terms and conditions for teachers (Headteachers generally attracting considerably higher salaries than for other schools). This is allowing academies to attract teachers away from other schools whose needs may be greater. You will find the Department for Education's rationale for academies here, along with more details of operation. 

Government has also blocked Local Authorities from setting up new schools, and these now have to be academies, Free Schools, or Voluntary Aided Schools (I can't see the logic for these last in converting, where a Foundation or Trust contributes to building costs and has some influence on the running of the school). In the case of new academies and Free Schools, government provides the building costs and the sponsors run the school. A major expansion of provision in primary schools is needed in parts of both Kent and Medway, so the academy and Free School sectors will both naturally expand. 

In Kent and Medway, academies are generally independent of the local authorities in most respects, although a few are directly sponsored by the Authorities (as far as I can see this just means they appoint a governor who does not necessarily report back, and have no other control). However, they all required to obey the same Admissions Code and are members of the Kent or Medway coordinated admissions scheme for all schools. As the two Local Authorities diversify into an increasingly splintered education provision under the academy programme, there are now many types of local model, as explained below. 

Currently four fifths of Kent secondary schools, academies and free schools (84/101), and one in three primaries (155/455) are either academies or free schools or have made application, along with 90% (15/17) of Medway's secondaries and 50% (39/79) of the primaries).  There are two Special Schools in Kent, and one in Medway, with two in progress. You will find KCC's list here.

An organisation that is highly critical of the academy programme, but whose website is very informative on aspects of it, is the Anti-Academies Alliance

I have now heard anecdotal evidence of several schools which signed up to be sponsored or converter academies, in academy groups, where the agreed level of top-slicing of the academy budget to pay for Trust costs is greatly increased soon after the conversion takes place.

Old Style Academies

First up are the “old style” secondary academies. The rationale for these  was originally based on replacing failing schools in socially deprived urban areas, although this definition became stretched as government sought to increase the number with,, for example, the Knole Academy in Sevenoaks not qualifying on any of the three counts. The earliest academies have either been completely rebuilt or had plans approved to secure a rebuild on a very generous budget of the order of £30 million each, Isle of Sheppey Academy doing best with premises at a cost of £54 million. Those approved later have still been generously treated usually benefiting from a major rebuild, usually of £15 million or more. Most of these academies have main sponsors who have been given control of the institution for a donation of the order of £2 million, waived in the case of charities or churches.

The old style academies are: Bishop of Rochester Academy, Chatham; Brompton Academy, Gillingham (sponsored by University of Kent); Cornwallis Academy, Maidstone; Dover Christ Church Academy;  The Duke of York's Royal Military School, Dover (fully boarding, previously Independent, with a tradition of admitting children of military families, associated with Dover Federation of the Arts); Folkestone Academy (all through, incorporating the previous Folkestone Primary Academy); Isle of Sheppey Academy; The John Wallis C of E Academy Ashford (all through, incorporating the previous Linden Grove Primary School, Ashford);  The Knole Academy, Sevenoaks; Leigh Academy, Dartford; Longfield Academy, Dartford; Marlowe Academy, Ramsgate (wound up in August 2015); Marsh Academy, Romney Marsh; New Line Learning Academy, Maidstone; Orchards Academy, Swanley; St Augustine Academy, Maidstone; Strood Academy (Sponsored by University of Creative Arts); Skinners Kent Academy, Tunbridge Wells; Spires Academy, Canterbury; and  Wilmington Academy, Dartford.


Newer academies fall into two groups: 'sponsored' and 'converter'. Both types of academy are able to bid of for capital developments in competition with other schools under two categories: where numbers of children are expanding in the area; and where the school buildings are identified as in need of improvement. In neither case is it yet clear by what criteria these funds are awarded. In my opinion certain academies attracted undue priority for their bids in the recent capital allocations. Now that regulations for expanding schools have been relaxed or abolished, some of these are rapidly growing.

Sponsored Academies

The first type are the Sponsored Academies, who are taken over by more successful schools, academy chains or other organisations. However, not all are underperforming and some have chosen to take up this arrangement.  Currently government is putting pressure on Local Authorities and school governing bodies in an attempt (almost wholly successful but often controversial) to force underperforming schools. into academy partnerships and I expect many more local primary schools to appear in this list shortly. There is no public consultation for these conversions and it is not until the decision is announced that one can be sure this is happening. Often there is great secrecy about the process. There is an analysis of the work of two of  the largest groups of Academies here.

There is no pattern for these schools, but I have attempted to identify the academy groups and partnerships that operate in Kent and Medway with information about them and their other academies elsewhere in the country. I provide a summary list of the sponsored academies below, cross check with the academy groups page to find the sponsor.  

The sponsored academies are (in their academy groups here):

Kent secondary schools

Angley School, Cranbrook; Ebbsfleet Academy (previously Swan Valley School); High Weald Academy (previously Angley School); Meopham School; Orchards Academy (previously Swanley Technology College); Oasis Hextable Academy (now closed);  SchoolsCompany The Goodwin Academy; St Edmund’s Catholic Secondary, Dover; Sittingbourne Community School.

Medway secondary schools: Bishop of Rochester Academy; Chatham Grammar School for Boys; Hundred of Hoo Academy (11-19); Robert Napier School

Kent primary schools:

Ashford:  Beaver Green Primary; Brenzett CofE; Finberry Primary; Kennington CofE Juniors; Kingsnorth CofE; St Simon of England Roman Catholic Primary.

Canterbury: Petham Primary;  Pilgrims Way Primary School and Nursery; Reculver CofE Primary 

Cranbrook: Cranbrook Primary (in progress)

Dartford: Dartford Primary Academy (previously York Road Junior School and Language Unit, and St Alban's Primary); Knockhall Community;Westgate Primary (Dartford).  

Dover:  Charlton CofE Primary; Hersden Village Primary School (F); Temple Ewell Church of England Primary. 

Faversham: St Mary of Charity CofE (Aided) Primary School

Gravesham: Chantry Community Academy; Copperfield Academy (previously Dover Road Primary School); Istead Rise Primary School;  Rosherville CofE Primary; Tymberwood Academy (previously Raynehurst Primary School) 

Maidstone: Archbishop Courtney Primary; Barming; Holy Family RC Primary; Molehill Copse Primary school; Oaks Academy (previously Oak Trees Community School); St Francis Catholic Primary (in progress); St James the Great Academy (previously St James the Great Primary Community and Nursery School); Treetops Academy (previously Bell Wood Community Primary School).

Malling: Aylesford Primary School; Valley Invicta Primary School at Holborough Lakes (Snodland), with SEN Unit; Valley Invicta Primary School at Kings Hill, with SEN Unit; Valley Invicta Primary School at Leybourne Chase (Maidstone), with SEN Unit 

Sevenoaks: West Kingsdown CofE VC Primary School (in progress)

Shepway: Brenzett CofE; Lydd Primary; Martello Grove Academy, with SEN Unit; Morehall Primary; St Nicholas CofE, New Romney.

Sheppey:  St Edward's Catholic

Sittingbourne: Kemsley Primary; Lansdown Primary; Milton Court Primary; Richmond Primary; South Avenue Junior;  St Edward’s Catholic Primary, Sheppey; Thistle Hill Academy, Sheppey, , with SEN Unit; Westlands Primary School

Swanley:  Horizon Primary School;

Thanet: Chilton Academy Primary School; Christ Church Church of England Junior School in Ramsgate; Cliftonville Primary; Dame Janet Primary Academy (previously Dame Janet Infant & Junior Schools), Drapers Mill Primary School, Margate; Newlands Primary, Northdown Primary; St Laurence in Thanet Church of England Junior School;  & Salmestone Primary,

Tunbridge Wells: Skinners' Kent Primary School; Temple Grove Academy, (previously Sherwood Park Community Primary School) 

Medway primary schools:
Allhallows Primary School; Cedar Children's Academy; Cuxton Community Junior; Deanwood Primary; Elaine Primary Academy; High Halstow Primary school; Gordon Infant and Junior Schools (operating as Gordon Schools Federation); Kingfisher Community Primary School; Lordswood Primary; Napier Community Primary & Nursery, Gillingham ; New Horizons Children's Academy, Chatham; Oasis Academy Skinner Street; Phoenix Junior Academy (previously Glencoe Junior School); Saxon Way Primary Academy; St James Church of England Primary Academy, Isle of Grain; Temple Mill Primary; Twydall Primary (Rainham Mark Grammar School)Warren Wood Community Primary School & Language Unit. 

Sponsored Academies in Development

Charles Dickens School, Broadstairs (Barton Court Grammar School, opening expected (o.e.) 1 March 2017); Community College Whitstable (Swale Academies, o.e. 1 April 2017); North School, Ashford (Swale Academies Trust);  Royal Harbour Academy (Coastal Academies Trust);  St Francis Catholic Primary, Maidstone (Kent Catholic Schools Partnership); St Stephen's (Tonbridge) Primary School (sponsor discussions in progress);  Swadelands School (Valley Invicta Trust, o.e. 1 February 2017). 
Converter Academies
Then there are the converter academies, usually stand alone schools, but sometimes in Federations (F) (mainly also indicated below), or in Multi Academy Trusts (M): 

Secondary: The Abbey School, Faversham; Astor College for the Arts; Barton Court Grammar School, Canterbury;  Bennett Memorial Diocesan School, Tunbridge Wells; Borden Grammar School, The Canterbury Academy (F); Castle Community College, Deal; Dane Court Grammar School, Broadstairs; Dartford Grammar School; Dartford Grammar School for Girls; Chatham & Clarendon Grammar School, Ramsgate ; Cornwallis School; Cranbrook School; Folkestone School for Girls;  Fulston Manor School, Sittingbourne; Gravesend Grammar School; The Harvey Grammar School, Folkestone; Hartsdown Technology College, Margate; Hayesbrook, Tonbridge; Herne Bay High School; Highworth Grammar School, Ashford, in a chain with the Towers School, Kennington & Brockhill Park Performing Arts College, Hythe; Highsted Grammar School, Sittingbourne; Hillview School, Tonbridge; Invicta Grammar School, Maidstone;  King Ethelbert's School, Westgate (M); Mascalls School, Paddock Wood; The Maplesden Noakes School, Maidstone; Mayfield Grammar School (previously Gravesend Grammar School for Girls); New Line Learning  (in Federation with Cornwallis); The Norton Knatchbull School, Ashford; Oakwood Park Grammar School, Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Faversham; Sandwich Technology School (in a chain with Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre, Tenterden); Saint George's Church of England School, Gravesend; St Anselm's Catholic School, Canterbury (M); St Gregory's Catholic Comprehensive, Tunbridge Wells (M), St Simon Stock Catholic School (M); Sir Roger Manwood's School Sandwich; The Skinners' School, Tunbridge Wells; Tonbridge Grammar School; Ursuline Convent, Westgate -on-Sea; Valley Park School, Maidstone; Weald of Kent Grammar School, Tonbridge; Westlands School, Sittingbourne (M); Wilmington Grammar School for Girls, in a chain with Wilmington Grammar School for Boys; Wrotham School.

Primary: Adisham CofE Primary; Allington Primary School, Maidstone; Amherst Primary in Sevenoaks; Barton Junior School, Dover (M); The Brent Primary School, Dartford; Bobbing Village, Sittingbourne; Brenchley and Matfield Primary, Paddock Wood (M), Canterbury Primary School (F); Chiddingstone Primary School; Chilton Primary (Ramsgate); Christ Church Cof E Primary School, Folkestone; Culverstone Green Primary,  Gravesham; Dymchurch Primary (M); Furley Park Primary, Ashford; Gateway Primary School, Dartford; Godinton Primary (Ashford); Graveney Primary School (Faversham); Grove Park Junior School, Sittingbourne; Halfway Houses, SheppeyHampton Primary School, Herne Bay; Hamstreet Primary; Hartley Primary Academy, Dartford (M);  Iwade Community Primary School, Sittingbourne (M); Joydens Wood Infant School and Joydens Wood Junior School in a chain with Wilmington Primary School; Kingsnorth CofE Primary, Ashford; Luddenham School, Faversham (M); Lynsted and Norton Primary School (M); Manor Community Primary, Swanscombe (M) Meopham Community Academy (previously Meopham Primary School); Milstead and Frinstead Church of England Primary School (M); Minster in Sheppey (M); More Park Primary, East Malling (M); Our Lady of Hartley Catholic Primary, Hartley (M); Pluckley Church of England Primary (M); Riverview Infants, Gravesend;Smarden Primary (M); Shorne CofE Primary, Gravesend (M); St Botolph's Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary, Northfleet (M);Regis Manor Community Primary, Sittingbourne; St Eanswythe's CofE Primary School,Folkestone; St George’s CofE (Aided) Primary, Sheppey (M);  St Gregory's Catholic Primary, Margate (M);  St John's Catholic Primary (Gravesend) (M); St John's CofE Primary School (Maidstone) (M); St Joseph’s Catholic Primary (Aylesham) (M); St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Northfleet (M); St Mary's Catholic Primary, Dover (M); St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Broadstairs; St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Primary (Tonbridge), (M); St Mary's Catholic (Whitstable (M); St Mary's CofE Primary School, Folkestone; St Simon of England RC, Ashford (M); St Stephen's Junior School, Canterbury; St Thomas Catholic Primary School (Sevenoaks) (M); Selling Primary School (M); Shatterlocks Infant school, Dover, (M); Sheldwich Primary School; South Avenue Infant School (Sittingbourne); South Borough Primary School (Maidstone); Stella Maris Catholic Primary, Folkestone (M); Sturry CofE Primary School (M); Warden House Primary School, Deal (M); Wentworth Primary School, Dartford, Westlands Primary (Sittingbourne); West Malling Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School and Language Unit; Whitecliffs Primary College of the Arts, Dover (M); Whitehill Primary, Gravesend (M).   

Secondary academies in Medway: Chatham Grammar School for Girls;  Fort Pitt Grammar School (M); Greenacre School (M);  Holcombe Grammar School (M);Howard School, Gillingham (M); Rainham Mark Grammar School (M); Rainham School for Girls (M); Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School (M); The Rochester Grammar School (M); The Thomas Aveling School (M); and Walderslade Girls School.

Primary academies in Medway: All Faiths' Children's Community Primary School, Strood (M); All Saints CofE Primary, Chatham; Brompton-Westbrook Primary School; Chattenden Primary School; Cliffe Woods Primary School;  Cuxton Community (M); Delce Junior, Rochester; Hoo St Werburgh Primary (M); St John's Cof E Infant; St Margaret's CofE VC Junior, Rainham; Stoke Community Primary (M); Wayfield Community Primary & Nursery (M); Woodlands Primary School, Gillingham; Walderslade Primary (M).

Special schools: 

 Milestone Special School, New Ash Green, (M) Bradfields Academy, Chatham; Danecourt Community Special School, Gillingham; Rivermead  School in Medway(M).

Converter Academy applications in progress
Other schools with applications in progress are:  Dartford Grammar School for Girls Holmesdale Technology College, Snodland (in Federation with The Malling School); St John's Catholic Comprehensive School, Gravesend; Borough Green Primary School; Bromstone Primary School, Broadstairs; Garlinge Primary School and Nursery, Margate;  Great Chart, Ashford; Fleetdown Primary (Dartford); Horton Kirby, CofE, Swanley; Kingsdown and Ringwould CofE Primary School; Lamberhurst St Mary's CofE; Leybourne, SS Peter & Paul, CofE, VA, Maidstone; Lady Boswell's Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School, Sevenoaks; Minterne Community Primary School (Sittingbourne); More Park Catholic Primary, Maidstone; Mundella Primary School, Folkestone; Oakfiled Community, Dover; Priory Fields Primary, Dover; Riverhead Infants School (Sevenoaks); ;  Sandgate Primary (Shepway); St Ethelbert's Catholic Primary School, Ramsgate; St Francis Catholic Primary School, Maidstone;  St Mary's Catholic (Canterbury); St Martin’s Primary, Dover; St Michael's Church of England Primary, Tenterden; St Peter’s Catholic Primary, Sheppey; St Richard’s Catholic Primary School in Dover;  South Borough Primary, Maidstone; Stone St Mary's CofE;  Temple Hill Community, Dartford; Tenterden Church of England Juniors; Tenterden Infants; Upton Junior, Thanet; Westcourt, Gravesham; . 

In Medway: Balfour Infant School; Balfour Junior School; Miers Court, Gillingham; The Pilgrim  School, Borstal; Riverside Primary, Gillingham; St Margaret's Infant School, Gillingham, Thames View Primary, Gillingham,  

You will find KCC's list here.

West Kent Health Needs Education Service for Tonbridge and Malling (Pupil Referral Unit)

Final Thoughts (needs revising, now very dated)
For me, the major concerns are the two tier financial structure being created and a lack of accountability. The threat to a failing school was that it would be closed and turned into an academy. What happens to a failing academy (they do exist and numbers will inevitably increase)? Against this, there is no doubt that academies are raising the status of schools, and some are notable successes. It is no coincidence that the most oversubscribed school in Kent and most successful on a number of counts is an academy which is now spreading its wings and oversees the working of three others that have seen greatly improved exam results this year. - It is the Leigh Academy in Dartford. The myth of higher standards can be seen from research quoted by the admittedly partisan Anti-Academies Alliance. Sadly this does not appear to create as many headlines as the vast pro-academy public relations exercise mounted by government amongst others.

The concern over lack of accountability sees parents unhappy with provision finding it very difficult or impossible to get satisfaction, for the local authority does not have responsibility for the internal running of Academies, and Department of Education processes can often appear impenetrable. The Local Government Ombudsman has no role in complaints about academies or appeals for admission or permanent exclusion, as they do not come under the aegis of local authorities. For complaints about academy admission appeals see my website article here. The correct route for complaints about academies, is via the DofE. You will find the procedure here.  Oddly, the DfE website recommends a private charity, Coram Children's Legal Centre  for legal advice about such matters.  I have no information about this charity other than what is on their website. 

Parents who send their children to academies need to understand the issues, although for most it may well be the best or only option available, and a very positive experience.

Last modified on Saturday, 31 December 2016 20:39
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