Because of the previous failure, OFSTED carried out a monitoring inspection of the new academy at the end of last month after five months in operation, the new Principal having taken up post in August 2012 to prepare for the conversion. The Report is withering in its criticism of the academy’s failures. Some excerpts: “Standards in reading, writing and mathematics for all groups of pupils throughout the academy are low. A legacy of underachievement has not been tackled with sufficient rigour or urgency. As a result, pupils are not making enough progress to close the gaps in their knowledge and skills to reach the levels expected for their age. Consequently, they are ill prepared for the next stage of their learning... In lessons, too many pupils were seen making little or no progress because activities lacked a clear focus or were not matched to what pupils already knew and what they needed to learn next... Too many lessons are inadequate....In most lessons seen teachers did not check carefully how well all pupils were learning, particularly those who were working on their own. Consequently, errors and misconceptions were not spotted and corrected quickly. Pupils who could not read instructions or the worksheet they were given went unnoticed for too long. Pupils who had understood the task or were not sufficiently challenged to keep them working productively became restless or distracted. As a result, the pace of learning was too slow and expectations of the quantity and quality of work to be produced were unclear or too low”.
“Exclusion rates are well above the national average, particularly among the younger pupils, and there has been little change since the academy opened”.
“Leaders at all levels have not acted with sufficient urgency or rigour to bring about the improvements needed in teaching and learning.....The absence of an improvement plan ....has been a serious omission. Arrangements for governors and the trust to hold senior staff to account for improving teaching and raising standards have been weak and hindered by the lack of such a plan”.
“The academy shares training with the other local primary trust schools, supported by the executive headteacher. However, external support has made little difference to improving teaching and learning because it has not been targeted where it has been needed most. Nor have checks been made to ensure that what has been learned has been put into practice or advice acted on”.
Of course, Dame Janet Juniors had been found Satisfactory on its own most recent OFSTED Inspection in 2011, and has now been drawn down into the corporate failure. Sadly this experience is not unique as was found at Tree Tops Academy in Maidstone earlier in the year. One can only hope that the other Thanet academies run by TKAT are faring better but those parents who see their schools being taken over by academy Trusts against their will only see their fears underlined by this case.