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Copperfield Academy in Gravesend fighting back after Ofsted termination warning

A struggling academy is fighting back after being warned it could have its funding axed if it doesn't improve.

Beleaguered primary school Copperfield Academy in Dover Road East was placed into special measures earlier this year and rated inadequate by Ofsted inspectors in March.

That prompted regional schools commissioner Dominic Herrington to write a "Minded to Terminate Letter" to the Members and Trustees of the REAch2 Academy Trust, explaining the school could have its funding terminated if performance doesn't improve, and listing a raft of improvements that needed to be made.

Copperfield Academy, Dover Road East, Gravesend.Picture: Andy Payton FM4050672 (12295999)
Copperfield Academy, Dover Road East, Gravesend.Picture: Andy Payton FM4050672 (12295999)

He wrote: "On March, 8, 2019, I received an Ofsted report confirming that Copperfield Academy was judged to be inadequate and requires special measures. Principally, because the academy is failing to give pupils an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing, or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school."

He said particular concerns were that the trust had not been effective in supporting the school to improve; that teaching, learning and assessment in key stages 1 and 2 were inadequate; that pupils were not making enough progress in reading, writing and mathematics; and that disadvantaged pupils in key stages 1 and 2 were making weak progress because additional funding was not spent effectively.

But after a follow up inspection last month, Ofsted inspector Frances Nation has written to headteacher Simon Wood - who took over in September last year - to confirm improvements were being made.

"The inspection was the first monitoring inspection since the school became subject to special measures following the inspection that took place in January 2019," she said.

"Having considered all the evidence, I am of the opinion that at this time leaders and managers are taking effective action towards the removal of special measures. The trust’s statement of action is fit for purpose. The school’s improvement plan is fit for purpose.

"The school is making good progress and is taking effective action to address every point..." Simon Wood

"Having considered all the evidence, I am of the opinion that the school may appoint newly qualified teachers."

Mr Wood said the findings were the result of hard work at the school since last year.

"We're not being terminated is the bottom line," he said. "The school is making good progress and is taking effective action to address every point.

"There are signs of good progress everywhere. I knew what we needed to to in September and it's no surprise the school was rated inadequate. This report shows me that what we started to do in September is having an impact - things like better teaching and learning, recruitment of highly qualified effective staff, higher expectations, clear systems and procedures, and engagement with the community."

Last year KentOnline reported that ten members of staff resigned following the departure of its fifth head teacher in five years - meaning the school had lost more than 80 staff members in the same period.

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