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Gravesend: Staffing crisis continues at REAch2's Copperfield Academy, in Northfleet, as 10 leave

By Ed McConnell

A total of ten members of staff have resigned from a beleaguered primary school which has parted ways with its fifth head teacher in five years.

Copperfield Academy, in Northfleet, which is run by the country's biggest trust REAch2, has now bid farewell to more than 80 staff in that period.

At its last Ofsted inspection in September 2016 the Dover Road East school was rated as requiring improvement and had 527 pupils, 47 above capacity.

Copperfield has parted ways with 83 staff in five years
Copperfield has parted ways with 83 staff in five years

In a progress report last year inspector Clive Dunn noted “significant turbulence in staffing and leadership” had meant standards had fallen further.

A sixth head in the shape of REAch2's former regional director for East Anglia Simon Wood has now been appointed but the disruption has led many parents to question the trust's leadership.

A meeting was called in June and the National Education Union is in ongoing talks with REAch2 to resolve the situation.

REAch2's spokesman Amy Leonard said: "At the end of the school year two teaching staff left us – one of whom was returning to her home country as she had always planned – and eight support staff. For a school of 500-plus pupils, this is not an unusual turnover of staff at the end of a school year, as colleagues move on to new opportunities. We are pleased to confirm that we are fully staffed for September, and look forward to a fresh start for the academy.”

Copperfield Academy, formerly Dover Road Primary, in Northfleet
Copperfield Academy, formerly Dover Road Primary, in Northfleet

Department for Education spokesman Jemma Allman said: “Staffing appointments are a matter for the authority that manages the school and not the DfE. The regional schools commissioner [Dominic Herrington] is now working with REAch2 to support Copperfield and we understand that a new head teacher, Simon Wood, is due to start in September.”

She added that the DfE have worked closely with REAch2 over the past year, to scrutinise their school improvement plan and the Trust’s plans to recruit and retain staff.

Gravesham MP Adam Holloway is also believed to be involved in the situation however could not be reached for comment.

When former head teacher Kevin Holmes left with just weeks to go of the school term after less than a year parents expressed their outrage, with one claiming their daughter has had 13 teachers in four years.

Copperfield is one of 55, including Cerne Road’s Tymberwood Academy, run by REAch 2, reopening under the banner in 2013.

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