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Fifth headteacher in five years leaves REAch2 Academy Trust's Copperfield Academy, Gravesend

By Ed McConnell

Concerned parents at a Gravesend primary school have hit out at an academy trust after the fifth head teacher in five years departed.

Kevin Holmes joined Copperfield Academy at the start of the academic year but with just weeks to go until the end of term left the Dover Road East school.

The situation with headteachers is just the tip of the ice berg according to some parents, with one claiming their daughter has had 13 teachers in four years.

Copperfield Academy, Dover Road East, Gravesend
Copperfield Academy, Dover Road East, Gravesend

She said: "Just when we think we are getting somewhere with an amazing headteacher the trust has decided to get rid of him. Mr Holmes has made the school a much happier place for my child. She is much more settled and enjoying it. The staff seem really happy and for once it feels like we are on the right track and that things are on the up.

"Yet another headteacher has gone leading to more unsettling changes for our children. I know I am not the only one to be upset at this news. The trust has been in charge of this school for a long time and they keep failing us. When will this stop?"

"The time that has been lost through continuously changing staffing and leadership means the current team is faced with a considerable task."

The school is one of 55, including Cerne Road's Tymberwood Academy, run by the country's largest academy trust REAch 2, reopening under the banner in 2013.

Formed in 2012 the trust describes itself as "a solid, unshakeable foundation" which provides "exceptional learning experiences".

A spokesman for the trust said: "We can confirm that the headteacher has resigned from Copperfield and has left with immediate effect.

"We are fortunate to have a very committed senior leadership team who will oversee the running of the academy day to day, supported by the REAch2 team through Paul Voural, associate school leader, and Lucy Ellis, deputy regional director, both of whom are very experienced Headteachers.

"The formal recruitment process for a new Head will begin shortly. Our staffing more generally is currently very stable, with no vacancies.”

"The time that has been lost through continuously changing staffing and leadership means the current team is faced with a considerable task" - Ofsted

Another parent whose child is in year 6 said her class had been taught by 11 teachers since she started. They added: "How can a school have five headteachers in five years, and expect the children to do well?

"The headteacher there now is fabulous. For the first time in a long time the parents can even see an improvement - and even the staff are smiling again. Last year the school was a miserable place to be in. Why oh why would Reach Academy Trust destroy the school once again?"

At the school's last Ofsted inspection in September 2016 it was rated as requiring improvement in every area and had 527 pupils, 47 above its capacity.

In September, 11 new teachers joined and in October an inspector carrying out a progress report observed that "significant turbulence in staffing and leadership" had meant all standards had fallen further.

Writing to Mr Holmes, inspector Clive Dunn said: "Current leaders are determined to make a difference. The headteacher has secured the full confidence and support of his leadership team.

"Some parents have noticed a positive difference made by the arrival of the new headteacher."

He added: "The time that has been lost through continuously changing staffing and leadership means the current team is faced with a considerable task."

Mr Dunn said the trust is aware of the school's failings but that the "candid self-evaluation is yet to lead to demonstrable improvement."

He suggested it was too early to say whether the new leadership team would make a difference.

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