Concerns repeated over AET’s ability to turn around Felixstowe Academy

Felixstowe Academy. Picture: PETER A COOK/FELIXSTOWE ACADEMY

Felixstowe Academy. Picture: PETER A COOK/FELIXSTOWE ACADEMY - Credit: Peter A Cook/Felixstowe Academy

Therese Coffey repeated concerns over the ability of UK’s largest multi-academy trust to turn around the failing Felixstowe Academy.

A statement from the town’s MP was read out during the first meeting between parents and school leaders at the £19m academy on Wednesday night.

According to reports, principal Anthony Williams told the gathered audience of around 400 parents that 20% of teachers have not been “up to standard” since he joined in September 2015.

The meeting also reportedly heard that up to 600 students in Felixstowe travel by bus to other secondary schools in the area, including Ipswich, Woodbridge, and Saxmundham. Both claims were put to school leaders by this newspaper but they were not confirmed or denied.

The meeting was called after the academy 1,221 academy was placed in special measures was rated ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures after an Ofsted inspection in November raised concerns over poor GCSE results. Inspectors said a “culture of bullying” is not being tackled.

More than 1,200 people have now signed Dr Coffey’s petition calling for the removal of Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), the London-based multi-academy trust running the school.

At one time, it ran 76 academies, but now runs 64. It was stripped of two schools last June at the request of regional schools commissioners and offloaded eight between December 2014 and April 2015 due to government intervention after running into trouble following quick expansion.

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Under AET leadership, Felixstowe Academy has failed to achieve an above-standard Ofsted rating three times. The trust stuck by a statement yesterday, pledging to make improvements “at pace” by increasing support and extending school days in Year 11.

Dr Coffey’s statement said: “We have heard promises of improvement from AET before and while it is fair to say that the current national leadership is new (about a year in post) and is not entirely responsible for the mess the school is in, I remain concerned about their ability to help the school tackle all the problems identified at the pace needed,”

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Robust improvement systems are now in place since school leaders returned from a period of absence, Ofsted has said. The 2016 GCSE results were a record and recent mock exams were strong.

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