In its time Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academy has been the most troubled school in Kent, my previous article also providing links to earlier references.
That article, entitled “Problems in Secondary Schools in Kent's Coastal Towns“, looks at the high casualty rate amongst headteachers of non-selective schools around the Kent coast. With Sheppey’s sharp fall in GCSE performance since the current Principal, David Millar, took over in 2013, from 41% and 37% before he arrived, to his 19% then 25% in 2015, he was surely a candidate to be next for the chop, especially with discontent amongst the staff and the continuing cry of ‘anywhere but Sheppey’ from any aspiring parent.
However, remarkably, although he is leaving the school this summer before his public commitment to serve at least three years at the school was fulfilled, he has been given a ‘great opportunity’, a further promotion with another multi-academy trust, presumably therefore a school even larger than Sheppey, the second biggest in Kent.....
UPDATED: 20th February 2015
The Oasis Academy Trust has agreed with government that it can close the Oasis Hextable Academy because the school is failing to attract numbers. The reason it is failing to attract numbers is that the two neighbouring and competing schools, Wilmington Academy and Longfield Academy to the north and east have been turned round from being very unpopular, and have now become two of the most oversubscribed schools in the county.
In addition, Orchards Academy in Swanley to the south, once the failing Swanley Technology School, has also improved with steadily rising numbers, with Knole Academy further south in Sevenoaks, picking up some aspiring families who can’t get their children into Wilmington or Longfield.
Sadly, Oasis Hextable, for which I used to do admission appeals regularly a few years ago, has gone the other way, certainly in terms of parental perception. I now talk with families for whom Oasis is a last or no choice, across a patch where nearly every other school is full, apart from one with which Oasis vies in unpopularity. There was an upturn in numbers for the 2014 entry, with the school being taken out of Special Measures when a “Requires Improvement” assessment in 2013 was achieved after Alan Brooks, Executive Head of Fulston Manor School in Sittingbourne, had overseen major improvements at the school. Unfortunately for the Hextable children, he left after a year, for Oasis to take over. It appears that 2015 admissions due out on 2nd March, will offer no solace.
Kent County Council has made clear its view that the school should not be closed, as the increase in population over the next few years will certainly increase demand for places across the District. However, KCC has no voice in the decision, nor in the future of the site, with the premises on a 125 year lease to Oasis, who could decide to use them for different purposes........
Sadly, yet another Principal of Sheppey Academy has lost his job, joining a long list of headteachers who have failed to crack the problems of this, the largest and most problematic of all Kent secondary schools. David Day, who proved an excellent headteacher of Wrotham School (where he was described as "a committed and inspirational head teacher” by OFSTED) before moving to Isle of Sheppey Academy in September 2011, is leaving his post at the end of this month along with his two subordinate Executive Headteachers. In spite of his leadership of the academy, taking it out of its failed ‘Notice to Improve’ rating from 2011, this will be the fourth change of leader since 2009 when its predecessor, Minster College, became a sponsored academy, although the problems of the school reach back many years before (see below).
Possibly of even more significance, the current sponsors, headed by Dulwich College and supported by Kent County Council and the Anglican Diocese of Canterbury are also relinquishing their roles in January when Oasis becomes sole sponsor, taking on the role of lead sponsor from 1st September.