Kent MAT with links to former minister causing concern
All-through academy, previously good, facing reorganisation and redundancies
Dr Jo Saxton, Turner Schools’ CEO, was formerly CEO of Future Academies, the MAT founded by former schools minister Lord Nash, and was once a director of the New Schools Network, the charity which promotes free schools.
Dr Saxton sits on the advisory council of Parents and Teachers for Excellence (PTE) set up two years ago by Dame Rachel de Souza, CEO of Inspiration Trust whose directors include schools minister Lord Agnew, and Jonathan Moynihan, director of Vote Leave. PTE is supposed to be a grass-roots group but its advisory council mainly comprises representatives of MATs currently praised by schools minister Nick Gibb.
Turner Schools took over Martello Primary School and Morehall Primary School from Lilac Sky Trust in January 2017 – rebrokerage totalled £100k. The Trust expects to open Turner Free School in September. Folkestone Academy, an all-through 3-19 school, was taken over in December 2017 for a ‘fresh start’.
The predecessor Folkestone Academy was judged good from in October 2015 but accounts for Folkestone Academy trust* show it was classified as ‘coasting’ in January 2017.
Areas of concern listed by KIEA include:
- ‘An unpopular and major reorganisation’ at Folkestone Academy
- Staff redundancies at Folkestone Academy
- Few applications for places at the two primary schools
- Primary academies ‘currently on their third joint Executive Head in just over a year’
High-profile trainer imported from US to deliver basic classroom skills
KIEA’s latest blog discusses a TES article describing a training session at Folkestone Academy delivered by US-based ‘guru’ Doug Lemov.
It’s unclear how much it cost to bring someone from the States to deliver basic classroom skills such as walking around instead of teaching from a static position and ‘cold-calling’ – teachers choosing pupils to answer questions rather than relying on hands-up. I learnt about these at my teacher-training college over forty years ago.
Folkestone compared to US ‘rust-belt’ town
Lemov said Folkestone reminded him of US ‘rust-belt’ towns because there’s ‘net migration out’. But KIEA found no evidence to support this. Neither are there acres of corroding industrial units which give the US rust belt its name.
Dr Saxton attempted to soften Lemov’s disparaging comparison by saying many coastal towns had been ‘badly hit by cheap air travel’. But she could have gone further and described the town using words in a Turner Schools job information pack:
Folkestone ‘on the beautiful Kent coast, a town recently voted among the coolest places to live in the UK.’
Folkestone Academy trust in name change
The Folkestone Academy trust changed its name to ‘Oldfaat’ on 25 May 2018. I’m not sure how this is pronounced – it sounds like a malodourous joke.
*Accounts for Folkestone Academy available from Companies House.