The previous Swan Valley School and Ebbsfleet Academy websites were masterpieces in lack of communication, with very little information or news on either over the past year. These have now been replaced by a new Ebbsfleet Academy website. This is probably the worst secondary school website I can recall, at a time when it is surely critical to make a good impression. The home page contains just three items of news: a link to the school prospectus which until recently only gave the Open Day flyer; the Open Day flyer itself; and a self congratulatory message about the website. There is a message from the Principal thanking the hundreds of parents and strangers who have been in contact for support for the new academy. This is hardly surprising given the media storm that hit Swan Valley School when 5% of the whole student body was sent home for not wearing correct academy (sic) uniform on day one, enormously popular in some quarters. There is also considerable content about expectations from students. What is strangely missing is any report whatever about the official opening of the academy; clearly this is an embarrassment.
If you look hard enough on the website, you find a message from the CEO of the Brook Learning Trust telling browsers that the school has elected to become a member of the Trust. The Brook Learning Trust was developed by Hayesbrook School which was going to be the sponsor of the Ebbsfleet Academy, although there is no mention of this in the letter, which is just another general plug for the school: "The Ebbsfleet Academy will be a vibrant, forward looking and friendly community, committed to delivering the highest standards of teaching and learning for its students, whilst at the same time equipping them with the life skills necessary for the world of work or further education.The Academy will welcome male and female students from the ages of 11-16. It is made up of modern, purpose built, light and airy buildings and is set on its own community campus which includes a Health Centre, Library and Pharmacy and is adjacent to the Manor Primary School".
I went past the school entrance (pictured above) on Open Day and as you can see there are no school signs, just a framework presumably for the new sign when the school becomes an academy, and a sign advertising the Swan Valley pharmacy. Presumably the school has been forbidden to advertise itself as an academy! Oddly, there was no publicity about the Open Day either; does the school want to keep itself a secret?
Parents desperately want the school to succeed whether it is an academy or not. It certainly has the potential with the new Paramount Theme Park proposed for Swanscombe which would bring enormous regeneration to the area. The above comments may point out to the school some areas where it can move to meet their aspirations, but most importantly - why not level with them about the reason it is so half hearted about its claim to be an academy now.