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Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey confirms Andy Booth as new principal


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Andy Booth has been named the new head of the Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey.

The executive principal stepped in temporarily in September after former head Tina Lee quit during the summer holidays.

Andy Booth, new principal of Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey
Andy Booth, new principal of Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey

When Oasis advertised for a replacement in October at a salary of up to £118,370 it warned that the search could take "several months".

But on Friday, founder Steve Chalke summoned staff to tell them Mr Booth had agreed to take on the job full time.

Mr Chalke said: "I'm delighted to say Andy is going to stay permanently as head teacher. When the staff were told, they burst into a spontaneous round of applause.

"Andy has some big ideas to build on what Tina had already done. This is good news for the Island and great news for the school."

Mr Booth, 55, who was originally airlifted in as executive principal at the end of June from Oasis Academy Coulsdon near Croydon, where he lives, said: “ In my time here I have warmed to the students, staff and to the Isle of Sheppey. Oasis considered the options and decided to appoint from within as I already had the bit between my teeth.

The Rev Steve Chalke at the Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey
The Rev Steve Chalke at the Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey

“The Island deserves a great education and that’s what my career has always been about. The staff are great and the students are fantastic. The ingredients are all here to create a good school. But we can't keep doing things the same way otherwise we'll just end up with the same results.”

He has already brought in Ben Hodges from Coulsdon as his deputy and is working hard to attract more top quality teachers.

He admitted: “It has always been a challenge which is why we are putting together a complete recruitment package to make it attractive and affordable for teachers to come to work and live here. We are investigating some really exciting options to attract the right people to become part of the community.”

He said it could include accommodation. The school has £1million to spend on non-educational projects and previously suggested it could create affordable apartments for staff in Masters House, former council offices in Trinity Road, Sheerness.

Swale council, which owns the building, turned down the offer and is now spending £1.3 million renovating the premises itself.

Masters House, the former council offices in Trinity Road, Sheerness, Oasis wanted to turn into apartments and a community space
Masters House, the former council offices in Trinity Road, Sheerness, Oasis wanted to turn into apartments and a community space

Meanwhile, Mr Booth, a qualified art and design teacher and whose father was a teacher, has no immediate plans to move from Croydon to Sheppey himself.

He said: “I have a very supportive family. I’ve always had long working days but the thinking time I get in the car is quite useful.”

He still manages to be in school in time to greet pupils at the gate.

When he first arrived, he said: “Learning starts at the school gate. The checks are made so pupils get into lessons ready to learn. I have high expectations for our pupils and it begins with getting the basics right.”

He also clamped down on mobile phones in class. He said: “We have always banned them in school. There is no need for them. If parents need to contact their children they can phone the office and we can get a message to them.”

Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey Minster campus
Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey Minster campus

Mr Booth admitted: “A lot of students thought I had brought in new rules but there are no new rules. They have always been here. But I am now holding people to account, students, staff and parents. For example, our uniform is blazer and tie. That’s how it is. It’s very clear.”

He described himself as an "understanding head with high expectations.”

John Bradshaw, the regional director of Oasis Community Learning covering London and south east secondary academies, said: "I am pleased to confirm that, following discussions between Andy and our senior leaders, he will be leading the Academy on a permanent basis.

"He is an exceptional school leader who has dedicated his career to improving the life-chances of young people, previously in Croydon and now on the Isle of Sheppey.

"Over the last two terms he has got to know our students and their families, our staff and our community. His commitment to taking the school forward is great news. Simply put, he is the best person for the job."

John Bradshaw, regional director at Oasis Learning Trust
John Bradshaw, regional director at Oasis Learning Trust

Mr Bradshaw added that there would also be an investment new senior leadership positions to "help to drive up standards."

He said: "Under Mr Booth’s leadership, the staff team are working hard to ensure that each of our students is supported to recover any lost learning, to excel academically and ultimately to flourish."

Mr Booth said: “I’ll be here as long as Oasis needs me to be here."

The academy has been labelled “requires improvement” by education regulator Ofsted on all four of its previous visits.

Mr Booth is the school's fourth boss since Oasis took over the two sites in Sheerness and Minster in 2013. Miss Lee, who commuted daily from Brighton, stayed for two years.

Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey Minster campus
Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey Minster campus
Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey's Sheerness site in Marine Parade
Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey's Sheerness site in Marine Parade

Its predecessors The Isle of Sheppey Academy, sponsored by Dulwich College, and Minster College before that, also failed to keep their heads long term. The school is one of the largest mixed comprehensives in the country with capacity for 2,500 students.

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