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'Troubled' Sheppey school advertises for new £100,000 head

By John Nurden

Adverts have been posted for a new £100,000 head to run the Oasis Academy on the Isle of Sheppey.

The vacancy arose over the Easter holidays when principal John Cavadino suddenly quit after just 18 months in the top job..

The secondary school and sixth form college is advertising for an "inspirational and visionary leader with high expectations" to give its 1,500 pupils the "world-class education they truly deserve."

The Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey Sheerness campus (1638588)
The Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey Sheerness campus (1638588)

It is offering a salary of at least £86,435 to £100,072 and Teachers Pension Scheme.

The closing date for applications is 11am on Monday, May 14, with interviews taking place on May 24 and 25.

The school describes the job as an "unmissable opportunity for an ambitious, passionate and tenacious Principal to join one of the largest and highly successful Multi Academy Trusts in the UK."

It adds: "We are looking for someone to reinvigorate and rapidly further improve our Secondary Academy in Kent."

Left: John Cavadino former principal at the Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey (1638584)
Left: John Cavadino former principal at the Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey (1638584)

Oasis Academy Learning, which was formed by Baptist minister Steve Chalke, took over the £52 million school in January 2014. Pupils are taught over two sites in Marine Parade, Sheerness, and Minster Road, Minster.

Mr Chalke is visiting the Island on Tuesday (May 1) to meet members of the community and to see the academy's award-winning Dementia Cafe in action.

The advert admits: "Standards within our Academy have started to improve but we still have a long way to go until we can claim to be a truly outstanding school."

But it makes much of the coastal location with sea views from classrooms and affordable housing within easy reach of London.

It adds: "The appointed candidate will be someone with a strong track record of outstanding leadership... ready to take on this role and deliver exceptional education at the heart of community."

The school is inviting candidates to visit the premises on Tuesday, May 8. There were other 'open days' booked on Wednesday and Friday.

MP Gordon Henderson (1638974)
MP Gordon Henderson (1638974)

Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson has demanded an “urgent meeting” with education bosses following Mr Cavadino's resignation.

This will be the sixth head since the troubled school, formerly known as the Sheppey Comprehensive and Minster College, became an academy.

He said: "Part of the problem is too many children leave Sheppey for Sittingbourne schools. This is not just to the grammar schools but also to Westlands, Fulston Manor and Sittingbourne Community College.

“This will only change when Island parents are given a choice of secondary schools, as they have in Sittingbourne. I have always said one academy over two sites wouldn’t work and it hasn’t. It needs two schools, preferably one for academic studies one for more vocational subjects. That is the underlying problem.”

The Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey Sheerness campus (1638586)
The Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey Sheerness campus (1638586)

The academy was designed to teach 2,400 pupils but has been struggling to attract students as parents opt for mainland education.

Its role call is about 1,500 which has led to a critical shortfall in funding.

Mr Henderson added: “I was sorry to hear John has left the Oasis Academy because I had a lot of time for him. The school desperately needs stability and I had hoped he would provide it.”

But he went on: “It should be pointed out the Academy is improving. Two of its teams came first and second in a recent Dragon’s Den style business presentation. I was very proud of the pupils.”

Independent education consultant Peter Read who runs Kent Advice launched a blistering attack on the school on his website.

He said: “The number of pupils withdrawn from Oasis for home education hit a record of 44 in 2016-17, Mr Cavadino’s first year in post. This was more than double the 20 of the previous year.”

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