The Red Kite Trust, based at Chesham Grammar School, has been sent a ‘termination’ letter for Ivingswood Academy, a primary school which the grammar school sponsors.
Ivingswood was judged inadequate in October 2018, over a year ago. It has received three monitoring visits by Ofsted, the last being in October 2019.
It appears the trust was being allowed time to improve. This is only right, as I’ve argued before. It makes sense for a school, whether local authority maintained or academy, to be given a period to turn itself around unless there are pressing reasons why not.
But allowing Ivingswood a breathing space again shows inconsistency at the Department for Education and among Regional Schools Commissioners. Recent funding warnings have been issued with almost indecent haste after an inadequate judgement while others seem to be treated more leniently as in the case of REAch2 and Sprites Primary Academy.
In the case of Ivingswood, this period of grace didn’t work. Red Kite Trust was sent a ‘minded to terminate’ letter on 15 August 2019, a year after the school had been placed in special measures.
The last Ofsted monitoring report on 1 October found the trust wasn’t ‘taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.’ The local RSC, Dame Kate Dethridge, met with Red Kite’s CEO and the executive head of Chesham Grammar on 2 October. It was ‘not evident in this meeting that the trust had a clear plan for improvement at Ivingswood Academy’.
The trust’s lack of a strategy for Ivingswood throws doubt on the assumption that grammar schools are always well-placed to improve other schools just because they’re good or better. Schools minister Nick Gibb urged grammars to take-over local failing schools.
Chesham Grammar is an outstanding school but has failed to produce an improvement plan for Ivingswood.
It’s unwise to assume that good or better schools, whether grammars or comprehensives, will always be able to turn around failing schools. This is especially true cross-phase when a secondary school takes over primary academies (but rarely the other way around), or when universities and private schools set up multi-academy trusts. It may work; but it may not. The government should stop promoting such enterprises as a magic bullet for improvement when there are so many failures.
Funding warning letter to Redhill Academy Trust
A Minded to Terminate Letter was sent to Redhill Academy Trust in respect of Park Vale Academy on 23 January but has only just been made public. The school was judged inadequate in May but the report wasn’t published until 17 October. The local RSC, John Edwards, was told on 10 October. It’s not known what caused the delay in publishing the inspection report. Redhill runs 14 academies in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.