Update (Friday 10th): The Gravesend Messenger this week has published a three page article about Jane Porter, including the front page, as well as an internet comment section further back.
Jane Porter, formerly Executive Headteacher of Whitehill Primary School in Gravesend, has been found guilty of Professional Misconduct.
The Professional Conduct Panel of the National College of Teaching and Leadership published the decision on Friday, taken on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education.
“Ms Jane Porter is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England. Furthermore, in view of the seriousness of the allegations found proved against her, I have decided that Ms Porter shall not be entitled to apply for restoration of her eligibility to teach” (although she has right of appeal to the High Court within 28 days).
Whilst being in temporary post as Executive Headteacher of Kings Farm Primary School, at the same time as substantive head of Whitehill Primary in Gravesend, the Panel found that “it is evident that throughout her time at the school, Ms Porter had a cavalier disregard of key rules and procedures…Throughout these proceedings, Ms Porter showed no remorse for her actions and demonstrated a lack of compassion”. The panel found that Ms Porter "Having engaged in sustained and serious bullying, whilst failing to manage the running of the school the results of which included breaches in health and safety and safeguarding"…
Some of the many issues are explored further below; others are contained in the series of articles I have previously written on this website........
Six Kent and Medway schools have now been issued with Notices about standards in the year to 25th March 2016, a disturbing proportion of the 48 Notices issued nationally in that year – hardly an indication of rising standards in Academies. The total number of academies currently stands at 5272. Since my last article in July, which looked at a similarly alarming number of Notices for Kent and Medway schools, four new Notices have been issued. The Gravesend Grammar Schools Academy Trust was issued with a pre-termination notice in November by the Regional Schools Commissioner, in relation to Whitehill Primary School in Gravesham, the second school in the Trust. If it fails to improve or respond appropriately to some tough demands, as set out below, the school will be issued with a Termination Notice, which could lead to the closure of the school. Astor College, Dover, was issued with a Full Warning in December 2015, following its failure to respond properly to a pre-warning the previous year and again has had to answer some tough questioning. Spires Academy in Canterbury was issued with a Pre-Warning Notice in September, especially significant in connection with its relationship with Simon Langton Grammar School. The Future Schools Trust was issued with a pre-warning Notice relating to Cornwallis Academy and New Line Learning Academy, in Maidstone, in November....
A senior member of staff at a Chatham Primary School is reported to have been suspended by the Academy Trust running the school, after alleged cheating in SATs this year was reported to the Trust. This followed an inquiry by the Chief Executive of the Trust who made a comprehensive report to the national Standards and Teaching Agency (STA), which then took the decision to annul all 90 Year 6 results. The Phoenix Junior Academy is run by the Fort Pitt Thomas Aveling Academies Trust, which has clearly behaved very responsibly and professionally in the matter. Rightly, the Trust has issued a statement explaining the situation to parents, noting that no class teacher was involved in the maladministration of the SATs and is now reportedly engaged in a confidential employment process so understandably unable to comment further.
How different from the situation at Whitehill Primary School in Gravesend….
Congratulations to all at Gravesend Grammar School for what I believe is one of the most glowing “Outstanding” OFSTED Inspection Reports I have ever read. You will find this superb report on an outstanding school here.
The whole Report is carefully shaped around the school motto and opens: “The school’s motto of ‘consule cunctis’ meaning care for all permeates all aspects of the school’s work. It fuels the powerful drive for excellence of the executive headteacher and the governors and is understood and shared by all members of the school community”.
Unusually for a grammar school, it next highlights students’ exceptional behaviour and outstanding relationships within the school. It continues with the challenging curriculum, the outstanding teaching, and high standards. The excellent progress of students which culminate in an excellent preparation in the sixth form for student’s next steps in life as they value highly the opportunities for academic study and the exceptional quality of the experiences they are offered for leadership and enrichment, are other highlights of the report. “Safeguarding and child protection arrangements are exemplary”.
Updated: 28th June
Earlier this month, Channel Four showed a Dispatches programme entitled “Exams: cheating the system”. Whilst the programmeinvestigated how some teachers and pupils cope with the pressure of examinations by bending the rules or cheating the system, this article is concerned with the section that focused on the Early Years and KS2 issues at a Kent primary school, Kings Farm Primary in Gravesend.
It is important to stress that the programme attached no fault whatever to the current staff, the school being led between January and July 2014 by an Executive Headteacher appointed by Kent County Council, who shared her responsibilities with her home school, the neighbouring Whitehill Primary. She was subsequently removed from Kings Farm by KCC, after which she returned full-time to Whitehill.
There was a follow up in the Gravesend Messenger on 25th June, based on a frightening and convincing grievance procedure submitted by nine staff members and upheld by governors following an investigation by KCC Personnel Services. The grievance has now been circulated in the public domain, and the response by governors identifies: serious concerns about safeguarding and health and safety; concerns about treatment of children with SEN; concerns about relationships with parents; serious concerns about interactions with children and their well being; serious concerns about the curriculum and assessment; concerns about disability discrimination; serious concerns about relationships with staff, bullying and intimidation; serious concerns about the overall running of the school and serious concerns about the destruction of documents. As the executive headteacher, who has returned to Whitehill Primary and who refused to co-operate with the investigation, and a senior member of staff who is now employed full-time by Whitehill Primary were no longer employed by the school when this response was sent, no direct formal action has taken place. However, the response, sent in February 2015, notes that in view of the serious concern expressed about some of the allegations KCC intended to take the matter further.
After an investigation, the Standards & Testing Agency had “concerns over how all of the tests were administered and has doubt over the validity of the tests, including the mathematics tests. The team has therefore made the decision to annul all tests for all children”. When the Head of School at Kings Farm during the period in question was replaced, she then went to work at Whitehill.The KS2 test results were also annulled for the children at Whitehill. A separate investigation by KCC into events at Kings Farm decided that after the authority “found evidence of inappropriate behaviour during the assessments, the leadership team of the school was replaced”. KCC regards what happened as a “a serious breach of professional misconduct”. KCC has confirmed that investigations by the appropriate national bodies are still ongoing. The full statement by KCC to the programme is at the foot of this article.
Because Whitehill Primary is an academy, KCC has no authority there and I have no knowledge of what if any action has taken place as a result of maladministration at the school.
I have covered the background in previous articles and look at the issues in more detail below....
I have previously recounted the story so far here, and with previous links. To summarise:
KCC removed the headteacher of Kings Farm primary at Christmas 2013, and replaced him with the headteacher of Whitehill Primary on an Executive basis. This proved a disaster and the Executive Head was removed by KCC in September 2014, leaving a school that had degenerated into chaos. A consultant headteacher was appointed, the Headteacher of Ifield Special School appointed to oversee progress, and although an OFSTED Inspection in October placed the school in Special Measures, it both recorded the mess into which Kings Farm had been left by the previous leadership and the subsequent excellent progress in the school. A spokesman for the Government Standards and Testing Agency subsequently stated: “Following an investigation into the administration of this year's Key Stage 2 tests at King’s Farm Primary, in Gravesend, the decision was made to annul all tests results for all children. Any instances of maladministration of the tests are completely unacceptable.” A parallel investigation took place into the Whitehill results with the same result.
Kings Farm has now had its initial Monitoring Inspection following the Special Measures finding. Now free of the malign influence of Whitehill, the Report is the most positive assessment of any Kent school I have read at this stage, and my congratulations to all concerned. There can now be no doubt where the initial responsibility for the disaster lays.
Meanwhile, KCC had rewarded Whitehill Primary, the most unpopular primary school in Kent with parents, according to one measure, by allocating another 24 children places in the school at the last moment, raising its Reception Class numbers to 114, making it by far the largest all through Primary school in the county……