This article covers the opening of ten new primary academies, with a further eleven primary school proposals to become academies in Kent and Medway over the past five months.
I also look at academies under pressure because of falling rolls – Swadelands, Hayesbrook, New Line Learning and High Weald; more secondary headteachers lose their jobs – together with the numbers crisis at Kent’s first UTC.
Two new secondary schools are now on the stocks in Maidstone and Dartford, and the number of all through academies for pupils aged 4-19 is doubling to four, with Kent's two St George's CofE secondary schools expanding to take in at primary age.
I also cover a range of grammar school issues in Maidstone, West and North West Kent, and Chatham......
The Leigh Academy Trust is proposing to extend the age range of the Leigh UTC (University Technical College) to cover the age range of 11-14 with the support of KCC, to increase the number of secondary school places available in Dartford. One must applaud any sensible opportunity to ease the pressure on Dartford places, however the proposal raises a number of important questions.
The plan is to build an 11-14 ‘school’ on vacant land opposite the current premises, called ‘The Inspiration Centre’ to cater for an intake of 120 children from September 2017, also working with Dartford Council to create an adjacent outdoor sports complex for all students (it is not clear if this is exclusively for Leigh Trust students). The students will follow a normal curriculum before going on the UTC offering with its increased focus on engineering and computer science from Year 10 onward, being joined by up to 30 students from other schools.
As I was preparing to publish this article, local academy news is overtaken by the ideological decision to force all schools in England to have converted or started on the route to become academies by 2020. Whilst I normally confined myself to matters relating only to Kent and Medway on this website, the impact of this appalling decision on local schools is such that I have added a couple of paragraphs at the foot of the page.
As the conversion rate to academise has reduced to a trickle before this news, there are just two new Academies for February, Manor Community Primary School, Dartford, and Twydall Primary School in Gillingham, the latter having finally seen its future settled as it has been sponsored by Rainham Mark Grammar School after a very difficult failed take-over attempt by the Learning Schools Academy Trust.
There are several new converter applications: Simon Langton Girls Grammar; Upton Junior, Broadstairs; Temple Hill and Oakfield Primaries, Dartford.
News below about: two new build primary academies; Maidstone School of Science and Technology (or rather lack of news!); Castle Community College; Cranbrook School; Chatham Grammar School for Boys; Royal Harbour Academy (not an academy) and the Coastal Academies Trust; and a new 11-14 extension (or is it?) to Leigh University Technical College.
Three new primary academies this month, all new church academies in Kent. They are: Reculver CofE Primary, sponsored by the Anglican Diocese of Canterbury; and two converter academies, St John’s Catholic (Gravesend) and St Mary’s Catholic (Whitstable) both joining the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership, which is now the largest academy chain across the two authorities. Rivermead School, a Special School in Gillingham for children with complex needs, has applied to become a converter academy, the third Medway Special School to go down this route. St Mary’s Catholic Primary in Canterbury has also applied to be a converter and will be joining the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership in due course.
Other news on academies, Free Schools and the Medway UTC follows……
Four new applicants to become converter academies, together with further information on the new Jubilee Free School In Maidstone and Leigh UTC.
Government has announced that Medway will be awarded a new University Technical College (UTC), possibly to be sited in the Chattenden Barracks area. This is one of 13 in the latest round of UTCs nationally, the previous round awarding another local UTC to be sited in the Ebbsfleet Valley. To quote David Cameron, University Technical Colleges are planned to "offer 14-19 year olds the opportunity to take a highly regarded, full time, technically-oriented course of study. They are equipped to the highest standard, sponsored by a university and offer clear progression routes into higher education or further learning in work". The Medway UTC will cater for 14-19 year olds, specialising in engineering and construction, "traditionally at the heart of Medway’s economy", and will be sponsored by the University of Greenwich, MidKent College, Medway Council and local employers. Medway Coumcil states: "work to get the college up and running will start immediately", surely a necessity as the UTC is planned to open in September 2014. As a stand alone institution this looks a sound, well-funded concept, designed to "fill the skills gap in the UK by providing high quality training for technicians and engineers", but.....