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Roke School - forced primary academy

(118 Posts)
yellowsubmarine53 Wed 16-Jan-13 14:48:44

Yesterday's Guardian....

Forcing primary schools to become sponsored academies is...

a) a well-thoughtful strategy to improve standards in schools which have been under performing for years and lack the necessary leadership and direction with which to improve

b) a way to hand as many public assets as possible over to corporate academy chains as quickly as possible. Being a Tory peer, Tory party donor and friend of David Cameron gives you a natural advantage in benefiting from this situation.

The DfE say a). What do others think?

admission Wed 16-Jan-13 17:16:58

I say read the Ofsted report that says that attainment at KS2 has dropped from outstanding to satisfactory, that the average level for teaching seen was satisfactory and no outstanding teaching, that despite having a very wide cross-section of pupils the school had no data on the achievement of different ethnic groups, that TA support was variable and that both SLT and governing body were not leading and managing the school well
All that appears to add up to a coasting school and notice to improve is typically what will happen then.
The current political situation is that all schools in special measures, notice to improvement or requiring improvement (the old satisfactory) are going to be pushed into being an academy is well known and not avoidable. Why it had to become a Harris Academy is something between the school and the DfE, but the DfE will always win!

rotavirusrita Wed 16-Jan-13 17:28:56

it really boils my piss but as far as i can see what i think matters very little.

rotavirusrita Wed 16-Jan-13 17:30:41

Oh and its happening to the nhs and police too.

Ladymuck Wed 16-Jan-13 18:44:07

The last Ofsted inspections in 2005 and 2009 were both outstanding, but I think there's been a change in head since. I have to say that I share the parents concern at the choice of academy. Roke feeds into Riddlesdown school (and is a named feeder school), and geographically they are close (walking distance versus the bus ride to the nearest Harris academy). I would have thought that the staff at Riddlesdown would be in a far better position to understand what issues pupils from Roke are having, and to be able to help the Roke SLT and governors. Harris may be good, but it does seem an odd solution given the geography and the local ties. Riddlesdown is meant to be one of the best academies locally so it is surprising that it wasn't used.

yellowsubmarine53 Wed 16-Jan-13 20:26:45

Yes, notice to improve is the judgement rightly given to 'coasting schools' with an expectation that they will, eh, improve. The Ofsted report was in May 2012 and in Dec 12 Croydon LA gave the school top marks for all its improvement and performance measures. Ofsted were due back in for a monitoring visit last term and didn't go despite several invitations by the school. Coincidently, they went in today, 24 hours after the story about the DFe failing to follow their own guidelines hit the national press.

I've no idea why the governors agreed to become a Harris academy (I guess being threatened with the sack), when the school already works with an outstanding local academy which it feeds into. Nor why the school wasn't given a reasonable period to improve. Other than Harris have several schools in Croydon and fancied getting their hands on what is essentially a solid school, so they can claim credit for ongoing improvements.

Swainymum Fri 18-Jan-13 10:12:31

As a parent at Roke, Riddlesdown Collegiate would have been an ideal choice if we were forced to go to an academy, but we were told this would not be acceptable and that Harris would be taking over. The parents of Roke are campaigning to have this decision overturned, and the governors have expressed that their first choice of academy would be Riddlesdown. However, as yellowsubmarine53 states, their hands are rather tied. For further information, please visit

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 18-Jan-13 10:23:44

The judgement made in the High Court this summer unfortunately seems to suggest that it's game over as the governing body have already been bullied agreed to accept the DfE's plans.

Absolute and outrageous abuse of power, and what a tragedy for the effective joint working already in place at a local level. It would be interesting to know the motivations of the governing body and what role the LA played in this disgrace.

So basically any school, regardless of its history capacity to improve and without any consultation, is prey if - and only if - an academy chains fancies getting its hands on it.

An Ofsted 'notice to improve' becomes a 'for grabs' sign to the carpet baggers rather than the needs analysis that it was intended to be.

prh47bridge Fri 18-Jan-13 10:49:22

I must say I've never heard charities referred to as "carpet baggers" before.

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Fri 18-Jan-13 10:53:09

How has no one realised this before?!? ALL schools are being moved to academy's which means you'll end up with massive differences in schools. Each school will require business managers, accountants and will need to be run as businesses. So these people will need to command impressive pay.

So what will happen to those teachers just trying to educate?!

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 18-Jan-13 11:29:17

Really, prh, well might I suggest that you're a little behind the times?

I expect that we'll all be hearing it much more over the next few years.

CalmChaos Fri 18-Jan-13 20:23:36

I don't believe they are one does something for nothing. Just look what article says about lord Harris being David Cameron's best buddy. It is fatcat bullingdon boys all the way. Can anyone actually believe this is better for our children? What happened to the good old carefree school days we had?

sleepylampost Fri 18-Jan-13 21:22:59

Surely, if a school is struggling it is better to get in there early and give it some extra investment and good management? We owe that to the kids. It seems to me there is a postcode lottery starting in education just like we had in the NHS under the last government. Some places are falling behind the rest of the country.

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 18-Jan-13 22:27:26

This school had a dip in performance - its KS2 results in 2011 were above the govt floor target, but not good enough given the school's cohort. The school was put on a notice to improve in May 2012.

Since that time, the school has received excellent support from Ribblestone Collegiate and the LA and its results improved dramatically in 2012 and the LA gave it top marks in all progress measure in its inspection in Dec 2012.

So, yes you're absolutely right sleepy. It was great that the school and LA took action early and gave it some good investment and management which paid real dividends.

And what a shame that that excellent work matters not a jot when there's some academy chain desperate to get their grubby paws on a particular school.

CalmChaos Sat 19-Jan-13 11:39:43

I think the grubby paws are very more likely to be very nicely manicured ones that have been shaking hands with all the people that matter in this land. The nose is likely to be very brown too....

CalmChaos Sat 19-Jan-13 11:43:20

I think the grubby paws are very more likely to be very nicely manicured ones that have been shaking hands with all the people that matter in this land. The nose is likely to be very brown too.... Oh dear its starting to sound like a Julia Donaldson character this fictional carpetbagging creature. But is this far from the truth?

yellowsubmarine53 Sat 19-Jan-13 20:08:08

Unfortunately, not, calmchaos.

I see carpetbagger as more Roald Dahl myself....

sleepylampost Sat 19-Jan-13 22:56:25

Joking aside, maybe what coasting schools like this one need is a good kick up the jacksie and if people with business acumen can provide this, then why not let them have a go and see if they can improve things?

yellowsubmarine53 Sat 19-Jan-13 23:15:26

The kick up the backside is what a notice to improve is. The school was required to improve, brought in help from the LA and the local outstanding secondary school they already have close links with and indeed did improved.

When the school was put on a notice to improve, it was told that Ofsted would be carrying out a monitoring visit to check progress in the autumn term. This didn't happen, and the school has been carpet bagged despite the LA regarding its progress as excellent in Dec '12.

An Ofsted inspection suddenly materialised within a day of the national media getting hold of the story.

sleepylampost Sat 19-Jan-13 23:26:21

So Yellowsub you are saying there is something more fishy about this? I don't really understand why becoming an academy is so bad if they have more money and resources. Is it just the choice of sponsor that is the problem, since he is one of Cameron's men or the academy itself?

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 20-Jan-13 08:09:03

Converter academies don't have more money or resources. The original ones set up under the last government did - they were brand new schools - but those which convert now don't.

Leaving the broader political picture aside for the moment, in this instance the school was given a notice to improve and did improve by developing the partnership working they were already going with a local outstanding school. The local authority considered that the school had made excellent improvements when it inspected in December.

It seems to have been at this point that the DfE visited and told the governors that they would be sacked unless they agreed to the school being taken over by the Harris Federation. I've no idea why the governors agreed to this, and didn't undertake the broader consultation that the Academy Act requires, or get legal advice re autocratic choice of sponsor or lots of other things, really.

So to answer your question, the problem is both. There has been no reasonable explanation offered as to why the excellent working with a local school (which Roke feeds into and is an academy btw) isn't being allowed to continue or even be evaluated by Ofsted.

The primary reason seems to be that Tory peer and donor and close friend of David Cameron Lord Harris fancies expanding this portfolio of primary schools (the Harris Federation intends to go from 19 to 30 schools this year) and Roke seemed like easy pickings in an area where Harris also have secondary schools and is obviously a school that won't need much or any intervention from a sponsor to continue to improve.

So yes, I do find it all a bit fishy really, as to why public assets are being handed over left, right and centre to anyone well connected enough who wants them, with absolutely no explanation as to how this will benefit the children in the school or the community which the school serves.

CalmChaos Sun 20-Jan-13 08:35:35

I'm liking a Roald Dahl, 'carpetbagger' or perhaps 'The Grinch that stole our schools'.

sleepylampost Sun 20-Jan-13 09:14:07

Hmmm. I just looked at parent website. You are right. This doesn't look properly thought out by the DfE and very rushed. Is this school the only one in this position, with good results but still being taken over? Or are there others in same boat?

BTW it says in press releases that DfE threatened Governors with dismissal if they raised any objection. I'm need more convincing that academies are a bad thing but it does seem that this particular case has been handled very badly.

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 20-Jan-13 21:37:05

Since Gove announced his primary academy agenda in June 2012, the DfE has employed up to 40 civil servants full time to go up and down the country meeting with governing bodies in order to bully them to convert.

Once a school is in an Ofsted category (notice to improve or special measures), it becomes 'eligible for intervention' as defined by the Academy Act and Education Act. In the first instance for a maintained school like Roke this should mean local level support which should then be evaluated by Ofsted in a monitoring visit. The local level support happened effectively, but the carpet baggers got in before Ofsted.

More and more schools are being placed in Ofsted categories, as a result of higher and higher thresholds in the framework.

Gove originally spoke about 200 schools being forced to convert but it's become clear over the last 18 months that he will force any he can.

It's not thought through at all - none of this is.

sleepylampost Sun 20-Jan-13 23:34:14

Is there anything parents can do? It does seem a bit unfair if this school was only failing for 7 months. They are saying there's been no consultation but can they force a judicial review?

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