A confidential document obtained by the Shepwayvox Team shows there may well be up to 42 job losses at Folkestone Academy over the coming months.
Folkestone Academy was founded under the sponsorship of Roger De Haan, a Folkestone businessman and philanthropist from its opening in 2007 at a reported cost of £40 million, until it was taken over by Turner Schools, a new politically driven Academy Trust founded by Dr Jo Saxton (pictured), in December 2017.
Turner Schools currently run Martello Grove Academy Primary School (East Folkestone), Morehall Primary School (Cheriton), Folkestone Academy and will run the new Turner Free School previously known as Pent Valley.
Recently we were sent Turner Schools confidential document for their proposed staff restructuring currently under consultation between 18th April & 4th June.
Folkestone Academy currently has over 200 staff and the restructure as set out in the confidential document indicates there may well be plenty of job losses. It also makes clear that their have been a lot of resignations and of number of these staff have left to teach abroad.
There are serious concerns amongst staff that new job titles will exclude those already applying for another role within the school. Also the new pay structure could well mean that staff take substantial pay cuts if they take on these new roles, while senior management continue to be unaffected by any pay cut. Although staff are meant to be pay protected for 3 years, many have little faith that they will be even considered for the new roles when they will be advertised, potentially on a lower payscale. The staff have concerns that Turner Schools will simply say they do not met the criteria and thus workaround the 3 year pay protection and the payscale they are currently on.
Staff are highly concerned that vulnerable children may be put at risk by the proposed staff cut backs. We have spoken to some students and that say there is a growing level of anxiety as many trusted members of staff are leaving. In recent conversations we have had with students they have admitted to us that they believe staff are leaving due to them – THAT IS NOT THE CASE – staff are leaving because they see Turner Schools possible plans will only further drag the school down further.
Folkestone Academy according to the confidential document has a staff pupil ratio of 1:6, compared to an average of similar schools of 1:9 and a national average of 1:12. One of the reasons Folkestone Academy had such a high staff pupil ratio was because some of the students come from the most deprived areas of Folkestone and needed the extra pastoral support.
Back in August 2017 Kentonline published the story regarding the closure of the highly successful hair dressing salon and restaurant. Both of these facilities enabled students to find local employment due to the experience they gained via this successful vocational training. Not all students are academically minded and the loss of these vocational – hands on experience – courses will be detrimental to many students.
The confidential document also sets out the school is and will undergo a significant reorganisation within the secondary section of the school. The document proposes to scrap 42 posts even though ‘This reduction is mitigated, to a large degree, by existing resignations’ , reflecting the high rate of turnover of staff this year (2017/18). The proposed changes indicate that staff responsibilities will transform the philosophy of the school substantially after deliberating the consultation results. The school will become more academic curriculum led downgrading the well established vocational courses.
The document also reveals the number of ‘Aspiration and Inclusion Staff’ may be nearly halved down 39 staff members. Folkestone Academy sits in an area where there is a high level of deprivation, disadvantage and lack of aspiration. So will the scrapping of these posts improve the academic results of the school? We personally do not think so, but only time will tell.
The document also indicates the school wishes to eradicate its pastoral house system which has been so effective for all students in the past and assisted in 500 students going onto university.
The confidential document makes clear that the reorganisation is driven by financial considerations. According to the accounts lodged at Companies house the school has a pension deficit of £901,000 and the balance sheets shows funds of £5.8 million available as of the 31/08/2017. Jo Saxton was paid between £35- 40,000 from 01/01/2017, with a contribution towards her pension costs.
The school remains based on a ‘realistic’ intake of 270 pupils “rather than the inflated 300 places per year that were assumed and funded in recent years.” This quote taken directly from document suggests the Trust has not bothered to check the reason for the increased roll, which was simply because the school took on additional places due to the closure of Pent Valley in 2016, so hardly deserving of the pejorative ‘inflated’. We’d ask Sir Roger De Haan and his former directors and trustees what they think of that barbed comment by Turner Schools.
The document clearly shows that Turner Schools staff contracts are being revised to operate on a Trust wide basis, presumably so that the school can provide teachers for the Turner Free School- previously known as Pent Valley. In short staff will seemingly work across two sites and therefore have to travel.
The secondary education part of Folkestone Academy as is appears not to be a happy school.
In part 2 we will look at the 3 other schools which make up Turner Schools.
Martello Grove Academy(Primary school) – East Folkestone,
Turner Morehall Primary School – Cheriton
Turner Free School – previously Pent Valley Cheriton
Here are the documents which have been leaked to us:
confidential document – Current Staff Structure – Proposed Staff Structure Appendix A1 & B (1) – Appendix 1
The Shepwayvox Team – Dissent is NOT a Crime.