Proposed Free School in Deal
The dramatic decline at Deal’s Castle Community College, being taken by its leaders from OFSTED ‘Outstanding’ to Special Measures in three short years and, because it is an Academy still in the hands of some of those who took it there, must leave local families in despair about the futures of their children. As it happens, there is even a site available for a new Free School, for Castle took over the previously County run Walmer Science College, after it also failed its OFSTED, and is transferring its remaining students to the brand new Castle buildings extended to take in the additional children. Walmer will therefore handily be empty for September 2015, although the ostensible reason for its closure was falling rolls. Clearly any new Free School in the area will further damage, if that is possible, Castle’s recovery.
In order to track the development of new academies, I use the Government website, whose policy for academies is defined on the front page of the relevant section as: “Increasing the number of academies and free schools to create a better and more diverse school system”. Perhaps government has not foreseen the way that schools like Castle Academy could increase the number of Free Schools to create a more diverse school system!
There are just two new Academies this month as the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark continues to academise all its schools in Kent and Medway, absorbing them into the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership. These are St Anselm's Catholic School in Canterbury and St Gregory's Catholic Primary School in Margate. Three more Catholic Primary schools have applied to join: St Simon of England, Ashford; More Park, Maidstone; and St Peter’s, Sheppey.
In Medway, there are two new applications: the Howard School, secondary, in Rainham: and Cuxton Community Infant School. Both are applying to be Converter academies, which enables them to stand alone without an academy group behind them, although with Cuxton Juniors on its way to being taken over under sponsorship by The Primary First Trust, the Infants School could choose to work in conjunction with it.
Cranbrook CofE Primary School, failed OFSTED, failed Monitoring Report, is also to be a Sponsored Academy, although I understand there is discussion over two possible destinations, the Anglican Diocese of Canterbury, and one of the big academy groups.
There are further problems and delays with the proposed takeover of Kings Farm Primary by Gravesend Grammar School.
OFSTED has published a Monitoring Report on Molehill Copse Primary School, another of the problem academies run by Academy Enterprise Trust, after it failed its OFSTED in December. The Report states: “The Academy Enterprise Trust’s statement of action includes all the areas for improvement from the school’s inspection. However, the organisation of the plan is muddled. It does not set out well enough who will lead the actions, what is hoped to be achieved, how progress towards goals will be checked and how this will be done. This means it is not a useful tool for governors and senior leaders to check how well the school is doing”. As a result the Inspection conclusion is that “The Academy’s Statement of Action is not fit for purpose”. AET, although the country's largest Academy Trust, with 77 schools, is currently banned by government from expanding further.
Now that I have the primary school allocation figures, I can report that every one of Kent’s Free Schools are heavily oversubscribed, contrary to the national picture.