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Saturday, 04 June 2016 12:28

Phoenix Rising from the Ashes: King's Farm Primary School, Gravesend


King’s Farm Primary School in Gravesend has been removed from Special Measures early, the Report of OFSTED Inspectors recording three ‘Good’ assessments in: The Effectiveness of Leadership and Management; Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare; together with Early Years Provision. However it is still classified as ‘Requires Improvement’ because of the vagaries of the ‘Quality Assurance’ process.

Kings Farm 2

 The school had been placed in Special Measures in October 2014 by OFSTED as explained here. That Inspection team, although faced with the wreckage left from a train crash brought about by the appalling management of a local Multi Academy Trust brought in by Kent County Council to improve standards, acknowledged early signs of improvement in their Report after the school had been handed over to the leadership of neighbouring Ifield School. 

The following paragraph is based on quotes from the most recent Report, as is much of the commentary that follows.  

As a Governor, I am delighted that Governance is described as excellent, the Consultant Headteacher responding to the previous Inspection with determination and a clear and uncompromising vision shared by staff that promotes the achievement of every child within a caring community. Since the last Inspection, leaders have relentlessly driven improvement, their accurate knowledge of the school, and the highly positive ethos they have created helping to promote further improvement. Overall, the school has been transformed. This rapid improvement was enabled by the partnership with Ifield school (an OFSTED Outstanding Special School) in a Federation from September 2015 which brought in the visionary oversight of the executive headteacher. …..

Much of the Report describes a school that is actually outstanding in a number of respects and, at the Inspectors’ Feedback at which I was present, there was much discussion of the agreed astonishing trajectory of improvement taking place in the school. However, there is no doubt that the school is still catching up on the appalling situation of the summer of 2014 when two thirds of the staff resigned many in protest at the leadership of the school, Key Stage Two results were cancelled because of cheating by senior staff, and KS1 results were also annulled because of cheating, both of which appeared to have been tolerated by the Academy Trust, as those responsible were allowed to remain in post in their home schools. You will find the background here

It was acknowledged by the Inspectors at this latest Inspection that, where there were still areas for improvement any issues behind them are now fundamentally resolved because of robust action by the school leadership and, with the current more stable staffing situation any remaining underperformance should fade away.

King’s Farm Primary serves a community with above average levels of deprivation, although this would be difficult to determine from aspects of the Report. Creativity pervades the school, illustrated by magnificent displays which celebrate pupil’s work and also the imaginative approaches used to help pupils learn well. Singing has been energised by a music specialist. Pupils' understanding of the fundamental British values of democracy, tolerance and respect are strong because these values are reinforced through the curriculum and throughout every aspect of school life. There is a strong sense of community based on the school’s values and pupils who met the Inspectors could enthusiastically describe examples of aspiration, courage, creativity, honesty, kindness respect and responsibility around them. Great care is shown to all pupils, including impressive support for those who face challenges. Pupils are very supportive of each other, including those from Ifield School. Behaviour is good and pupils are proud to be members of King’s Farm Primary School. There is an extensive range of extra-curricular clubs. The family support worker is tenacious in following up issues.

There is plenty more in the same vein, reflecting what can be done in a maintained school which enjoys a productive relationship with the Local Authority.

I am so proud to be a governor of the Cedar Federation, of what has been achieved at King’s Farm Primary, of commitment of the teachers who have worked so hard to bring this about (amazing how many are still working away after school on a Friday, a time when I am in) but most of all of our children, described as being polite to each other and to visitors, opening doors, and showing good manners at all times. The Executive Headteacher and driving force of the Federation, Pam Jones OBE, is a National Leader of Education who has overseen this astonishing recovery.  She is supported by a superb leadership and, whilst the inspirational Consultant Headteacher of King’s Farm, Catherine Taylor, is moving on job done, to Murston Primary School in Sittingbourne for September, she will be succeeded by a head of school designate who has worked in the school since January and, according to OFSTED, is flourishing in his role and well prepared for the leadership transition, taking over a fully staffed school.

OFSTED waxes lyrically over the new Federation Governing Body led by an astute chair of governors. They praise governors wide ranging expertise and their high motivation, using detailed knowledge of pupils’ progress to challenge school leaders effectively, and frequently visiting the school to see for themselves how staff are implementing changes.

However, there is still much to be done. Not surprisingly the school is full for September, and the school is now a happy and safe place for children, but the relentless drive for further improvement required by OFSTED is in the safe hands of a total committed and able teaching staff, leadership and governing body. 

Last modified on Thursday, 21 July 2016 18:54

5 comments

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 14 June 2016 21:51 posted by A former teaching assistant

    I'm not surprised that Kings Farm is coming out of special measures early. Having worked there for most of the academic year before moving on this term, I found the staff to be dedicated, extremely hard working and wholly dedicated to the welfare and achievement of the students. Well done to everyone! You thoroughly deserve this recognition of all your hard work!

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 14 June 2016 21:41 posted by Jonathan Deakin

    I was a teacher at King's Farm for thirteen years. I am so happy that it is coming out from its period of gloom!
    Well done children and staff of that wonderful school!
    Continue to rise!

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 08 June 2016 09:49 posted by Ex-Kings Farm teacher

    This is great news for the school and all connected with it. Congratulations. But spare a thought for those good and committed teachers driven out by that woman and an incompetent and uncaring Academy Trust. Some are still suffering the consequences.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 07 June 2016 22:00 posted by A former teacher

    This news makes me so happy! As someone who worked at the school for a number of years, then leaving as many did in July 2014, I have followed the school's progress carefully over the past two years. I know that the staff who have continued to work there, and the new staff who have been employed, have worked diligently and tirelessly to fix the horrors carried out during early 2014. It has been a long hard task, and some new teachers who started there found that for a range of personal reasons, they were unable to cope with the pressure, so have moved on, but all have contributed to the rebuilding of the school. It is a pleasure to visit now, and see all the improvements that have been made to the learning environment. The school always used to be a very happy place to work, and I am pleased that it has become so again. I wish the school luck in its continued journey to be recognised by Ofsted as securely 'good', as it deserves to be.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 07 June 2016 12:31 posted by Year 5 Parent

    Congratulations to all concerned. As a Year 3 parent then, I was shocked by what we put up with two years ago, when no one seemed to care what she was doing to the school. But now there is a different school with all the good things happening that OFSTED reports. Transformed

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