A rapidly improving comprehensive was turned round - the wrong way - when an independent school chain took it over and got it dumped into Special Measures.

Tim Rose's picture
Woodard Schools chose the former Boundstone Community College in Lancing to be their "flagship" academy & named it after the grandson of their founder, the Revd Nathaniel Woodard, because its exam results had been on a rapidly rising trajectory and it had been described by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust as one of "the most improved schools in the country" in 2007 & 2008.

This had been achieved by the hard work of the staff, many of whom had worked for years at the school, despite the fact that this small community on the Sussex coastal strip forms one of the most socially deprived postcodes in the county.

I am proud to have worked at that school for most of my career and to have sent both my daughters, who received an excellent education there, to Boundstone Community College.

Boundstone closed in August 2009 and The Sir Robert Woodard Academy opened in September with a Senior Leadership Team handpicked by Woodard & led by Carole Bailey. The new academy had the blessing of Schools Minister Lord Adonis, who warmly welcomed what he described as this "injection of the private sector's DNA into state schools". Tragically, in a little over 2 years, the progress made by Boundstone had been destroyed: many excellent teachers left prematurely because of the appalling management style of the academy's Senior Leaders; the key GCSE results actually fell; and as a result of an inspection in November 2011 the academy was put into Special Measures, with Ofsted rating it as "inadequate" because "it is failing to give its students an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the academy are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement."

What an indictment of the policy of Michael Gove and David Cameron (not to say of the last government too), who have repeatedly urged independent schools to sponsor academies! Woodard have shown a complete inability to choose the right Senior Leaders for the job and to exercise proper oversight of them.

Now the existing staff (those that remain) have the herculean task of turning the school around, in the difficult context of a local community who have been told their secondary school is no good. Many parents are understandably voting with their feet by planning to send their sons and daughters to the other schools in the area which are still maintained by the local authority.

The best wishes of everyone, like me, who passionately want an excellent school in Lancing are with the staff and students of the school, as they work hard to overcome the damage inflicted on them by an independent sector which brought not so much the "injection" Lord Adonis described but more a destructive "infection" of its DNA.
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Nigel Ford's picture
Tue, 14/02/2012 - 19:51

Not just the GCSE scores that fell but also A'level. The average entry is just 182 points equivalent to a D grade, down from the 2009 performance.

Rather ironic that most people who have heard of Lancing only associate it with the imposing public school which dominates the area.

The polarisation that exists in the small town must be more pronounced than ever.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 15/02/2012 - 09:51

The Government talks about the "DNA" of independent schools being "injected" into the state system without considering that the success of independent schools is because of their intake and that such schools have no experience of dealing with a full range of pupils.

The Seckford Foundation which runs an independent school - highly successful, it claims, because it is highly selective - is backing a proposed free school in Beccles. It's consulation document says it will offer good pastoral care as if state schools don't, and then it explains in words of one syllable what "extra curricular activities" are. Worse, it says that it will offer "functional skills" to those pupils not deemed capable of getting a GCSE C in English.

And this is supposed to contribute to a raising of standards.

Heather Gould's picture
Wed, 29/08/2012 - 18:44

As the parent of a child who has just sat GCSE's at the above mentioned school I agree with a lot of what has been said about it. I was lucky enough to transfer my younger son who was in year 7 as soon as I heard about the school going into Special Measures. However, I moved him to another Academy and could not be more pleased with the school. My son is on the SEN register as he has dyslexic type difficulties, the school has a full incusion policy and possibly the largest SEN department in the area; it was also rated as Outstanding by Ofstead this year and in fact is rated as one of the top 10 schools in England.
The success of the Shoreham Academy is the result of excellent leadership and a dedicated staff and it is sad that the Sir Robert Woodard Academy was not as fortunate with its leadership.

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