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Trust cuts ties with Elaine Primary Academy, Strood

By Nicola Jordan

A problem Medway primary school described as "well below average" is to be taken over.

The Department for Education (DfE) has had growing concerns about results at Elaine Primary Academy, Strood, for some time.

Figures released by The Williamson Trust, which has run the school for five years, show only 20% of pupils met the expected standard at the end of Key Stage 2 last year.

Elaine Primary Academy
Elaine Primary Academy

This week the trust, which also manages two Medway secondaries, announced it was handing over responsibility to the Inspire Partnership.

The DfE has also written to two other schools under the Williamson umbrella, Stoke Community School and Allhallows Primary Academy, about performance.

The decision has angered one teacher at the school in Elaine Avenue, who accused the trust of “washing its hands” of the pupils and the community, one of the most deprived areas in Medway.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said: “It feels a little bit like a doctor refusing to treat a very ill patient, because they might upset the 100% success rate.

"If we had been an achieving school we would not have been cut loose.

“The school ranks among the worst performing in the area and the trust is dropping it like it’s hot.”

Williamson Trust chief executive Gary Vyse said: “All staff within the trust care very much about the welfare and education of each and every child within our schools.

"The decision to transfer Elaine has been carefully considered by ourselves and The Inspire Partnership, and we feel it’s the right move for the academy and its pupils.

“We selected The Inspire Partnership not only because it specialises in primary education, but it also shares the same strong morals and high standards as the trust.

"There is no doubt it is in the children's best interest that the school goes somewhere else" - Peter Read

“Elaine Primary has had its challenges and we have worked hard to raise standards at the school.

"Since the appointment of the current head teacher, and myself as chief executive, attendance has improved, exclusion rates have reduced, the number of exclusion days have reduced by 96%, and the percentage of Key Stage 1 pupils achieving the ‘greater depth’ standard in reading is more than twice the national average.

"In a recent parent survey 100% of responses agreed their children made good progress at Elaine and the school is well led and managed.

“The transfer is an exciting opportunity for the academy, and I will be working closely with The Inspire Partnership during the transfer process and beyond."

However, education expert Peter Read has described the transfer as a “whitewash”.

He said the DfE wrote to the trust’s chairman, Michael Costello, in April regarding a pre-termination warning notice to close the Strood school.

The schools commissioner wrote to him in December 2015 and January 2016 expressing his concern about standards

Mr Read said: “The regional schools commissioner had asked them to sort it out otherwise it would be taken away from them.

“There is no doubt that it is in the children’s best interest that the school goes somewhere else.”

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