What is happening at the Woodard Academy Trust?
Woodard Academies Trust was formed in 2007 to deliver the academy programme for Woodard Schools – the largest group of private Church of England schools in England and Wales. From their riverside offices in London, the Trust runs five publicly-funded academies in very different parts of England – from West Sussex to North Tyneside via Kent and Stoke-on-Trent. And it looks like all five academies are in trouble.
1. St Augustine’s in Maidstone, Kent was inspected by Ofsted in December 2012 and found to require improvement, although their predecessor school had been judged good.
2. St Peter’s in Stoke-on-Trent was inspected in June 2013 and again Ofsted found this academy requires improvement.
3. Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing, West Sussex was inspected last term (October 2013) and guess what? This school also requires improvement.
4. Littlehampton Academy also in West Sussex was inspected in December 2013 and, while the Ofsted report is awaited, the Principal, Steve Jewell, resigned on 6 January 2014.
5. Kings Priory Academy was formed in September 2013 – a merger between a community primary school and a private fee paying secondary school in Tynemouth.Members of the NASUWT were set to strike at the school in Dec 2013 over workload but the action was called off following talks. The academy has yet to be inspected but just one term after it opened it too has lost its founding Principal. David Dawes cited differences of personal vision between himself and Woodard when he resigned on 7 January 2014.
To lose one principal may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.