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1. The Chairman explained that Mr Ward was present in place of John Cavadino, the Principal of the Oasis Academy, who was unable to attend at the last minute. She thanked Mr Ward for attending at short notice.
2. Mr Ward outlined his role as the Deputy Principal of the Oasis Academy and explained that it covered a broad range of responsibilities which included working with pupils with SEN and those who were the most able.
3. He explained that the Isle of Sheppey was unusual in terms of its educational history in that it had retained a middle school system until the early 2000s. It now had an academy which was split between two sites, one in Sheerness and one in Minster. The demographics of the two areas were quite different in that Sheerness experienced more severe deprivation than Minster. As an area which was largely rural as well as coastal and was at the edge of the county, Sheppey had had limited economic investment and so offered limited employment opportunities and limited transport options. Teachers were difficult to recruit and many pupils did not have access to the mainland and had never left the island. Although the situation had improved in recent years, there was still improvement needed.
4. Some 40% of Oasis Academy pupils were in receipt of pupil premium, a level which was way above the national average rate of 15-20%. At the Sheerness site, the number of pupils in receipt of pupil premium was 54%, and it was known that some pupils did not declare their eligibility to claim pupil premium. This was partly because parents did not want to be seen to be poor.
Mr Ward then addressed the list of questions prepared by the Research Officer and published as part of the agenda pack.
5. The focus of pupil premium in the 2017/18 academic year was to address five elements; attendance, attainment, teaching and learning, site consistency and hardship. In setting each year’s focus, the previous year would always be reviewed.
Attendance – this was below the national average at 93%, having risen 1% since the 2016/17 academic year. However, this was an average figure, and the actual attendance could sometimes be as low as 78%. A consultancy, SOL, had been engaged to help the academy to address its attendance rate. The parents of absent pupils would be given a daily phone call, with a home visit being made if absence continued longer than three days. Although the academy had the power to start, or threaten to start, formal proceedings at that stage, staff took the view that this step would not be helpful, knowing the circumstances of the families concerned. The aim was always to achieve full attendance. Although 90% attendance may sound good, this meant that one in ten school days (one day a fortnight) had been missed.
Attainment - there was a gap in the attainment between pupils in receipt of pupil premium and those not. In all ... view the full minutes text for item 20.
1. Mrs Game declared that her granddaughter attended Hartsdown Academy and that she had recently met with the head teacher of that school.
2. Mr Luxmoore explained that he was Executive Headteacher of the Coastal Academies Trust which consisted of 4 schools in Thanet: Cliftonville Primary School; Dane Court Grammar School; King Ethelbert School and Hartsdown Academy. Royal Harbour Academy was an associate member of the Trust pending conversion to academy status and was regarded by the Department for Education as being a full member.
3. Mr Luxmoore stressed the importance of Head Teachers working as a team to help reduce isolation, share responsibilities and work together, he considered that multi-academy trusts allowed for this to happen.
4. Mr Luxmoore reported that Cliftonville West was the most deprived area of Thanet with a significant Eastern European population. Cliftonville Primary School was outstanding and had a huge positive impact on Pupil Premium (PP) students; there was no gap between PP students and their peers. It was considered important to have an early impact in primary schools and this was being achieved at Cliftonville Primary.
5. Mr Luxmoore considered that the current PP scheme did not work because for a few hundred pounds teachers and schools were expected to overcome the effects of poverty on education and disadvantage within schools. Mr Luxmoore explained that there was a need to provide an economic strategy, ownership and a reason to aspire within the relevant community. He resented schools being punished for not closing the gap between PP students and their peers. Mr Luxmoore was also un-convinced that family income was the best gauge for assessing whether students needed additional support. There was an assumption that if parents had low income they had low parenting skills and Mr Luxmoore considered this to be untrue and offensive.
6. Members commented that Mr Luxmoore’s views were refreshing. In response to questions Mr Luxmoore confirmed that children’s attainment was measured throughout primary school and at the end of primary school, there was a correlation with low attainment and Special Educational Needs (SEN). Mr Luxmoore considered that rather than basing PP on family income it could be based on attainment measured in the reception year at primary schools to determine where children were in terms of their development. This was current practice to ensure that schools were able to measure progress through to year 6.
7. Mr Luxmoore explained that PP money wasn’t ‘new’ money for schools and was often spent on running the entire school not spent solely on disadvantaged pupils. Members asked how PP money was being spent across schools in the Coastal Academies Trust. Mr Luxmoore explained that in most Secondary schools money was spent subsidising the running of schools, schools already targeted their spending to tackle low attainment. It was considered that schools with low attaining students were more expensive to run than schools with high attaining students for reasons such as class sizes.
8. In response to a question about attendance Mr Luxmoore ... view the full minutes text for item 21.