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Thursday, 15 January 2015 00:00

Academy controversy at Twydall Primary; links with Gordon Federation

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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……

In the run up to the governors’ vote about becoming a sponsored academy with TSAT there have been two meetings of parents with members of the Trust. The first was not easy, the second one reported to be almost confrontational between the Trust and the 70 or so parents that attended.  Governors will now consider the results of the Consultation to inform them before their vote

However, the most recent development is almost bizarre. Mr Chris Jackson, Executive Headteacher of the Gordon Schools Federation in Chatham since March 2014, has been appointed as a class teacher to Twydall Primary from the start of this term. He was previously Assistant Headteacher at the small one form entry All Faiths' and was certainly handed a challenge, being required to run the Federation of two separate schools, each with two classes per year, as it joined TSAT, including reversing the Junior School’s ‘Serious Weaknesses’ inadequate assessment by OFSTED the previous year. The Gordon Schools Federation website makes clear that TSAT has now removed him, just nine months later (together with  sacking the Governing Body), from the school because the pace of improvement needs to accelerate. The departing Chair of Governors had also been appointed a governor of Twydall and was one of the two who resigned over the conflict of interest issue. TSAT must be seriously worried about current standards at the Federation to take this drastic double action, although the appointment of the inexperienced Mr Jackson as Executive Head undoubtedly contributed to the problem.

Interestingly, the Gordon website states in different places about Mr Jackson at Twydall that he “is working in another school in the Trust” and that “He will be moving to another school that the Trust is working with to support their own improvement journey”.  Of course, Twydall Primary is NOT a member of the Trust as claimed, and currently has no current role in working with Twydall to support their improvement journey, as the Trust representative confirmed at the second Consultation meeting. 

As far as the Gordon Federation is concerned, their new Executive Headteacher is Mrs Lesley Ann Jones, who has excellent experience in running of schools, with a senior OFSTED background, so it looks as if they have made a very strong appointment this time round.  

Read 6669 times Last modified on Thursday, 12 February 2015 21:54

4 comments

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 21 January 2015 09:50 posted by Rachel

    Nothing surprises me now. The whole process has been underhand and the actions of the local authority and TSAT are unbelievable.

    When will someone start to do something?

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 20 January 2015 10:15 posted by Richard

    I'm not against an academy takeover for Twydall, just against the underhand way in which TSAT is trying to force through a takeover, lying to governors and parents etc. Twydall is such a unique community school - what really worries me is that TSAT has no evidence of supporting children with complex needs. Neither do they have evidence of pupils passing the Medway Test - both really important issues for parents. They are simply not suited to our school. We need to find another sponsor we can be confident has the ability to do Twydall justice.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 20 January 2015 09:14 posted by emma

    Very insightful to read an independent account of what is happening at Twydall Primary.

    I can only hope that this is being picked up on by DofE and Medway Council, surely an independent review into proceedings must now be called?

    As for the placing of Mr C Jackson, interesting that a TSAT teacher should suddenly make an appearance at the school, when TSAT told parents that they were not yet working with the school!

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 20 January 2015 08:47 posted by Shirley

    As a Twydall parent of a child in Mr Jackson's class, I am bewildered. The whole TSAT experience has left me angry. I assume that someone who was an Executive Head has special skills as a teacher. To put it politely, my child has seen none of this. If this is what TSAT has to offer, we cannot put what is at heart a good school, thro it.

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