‘Sea change’ or ‘troubled waters’ at Turner Schools’ Folkestone Academy?

Janet Downs's picture

Turner Schools describes its mission as ‘sea-change’, committed to ‘contributing to the next phase of the regeneration’ of the Kent coast around Folkestone and ‘overcoming disadvantage by running schools where children thrive and knowledge matters.’

Noble aims – but Peter Read of Kent Independent Education Advice suggests the situation at Turner Schools’ all-through Folkestone Academy shows not a ‘sea-change’ but ‘troubled waters’.

Folkestone Academy was taken over by Turner Schools for a ‘fresh start’ in December 2017 despite the school having been judged good in October 2015.  Concerns about the new management began to surface in July 2018.

Concerns have not gone away.  These include:

1         A high turnover of principals at Folkestone Academy.  Sean Murphy, appointed as Turner Schools’ Deputy Chief Executive* six months ago, will take up the principal’s post in January.  He will be the fifth principal at Folkestone Academy in two years.  Murphy takes over from Wesley Carroll who will revert to his previous role as vice principal.

2         Senior leaders change with ‘alarming regularity’.

3         Although the outgoing principal has reduced the number of fixed term exclusions from 1211 in 2017/18 to 534 in 2018/19, the exclusion rate is still likely to be the second highest in Kent.

4         Professor Lygo, co-founder of Turner schools with Dr Jo Saxton, resigned in July.  The departure of one of Turner Schools’ founders has been marked by the usually publicity-hungry Turner Schools with silence.  Peter Read writes, ‘the total lack of appreciation of his work in founding and leading the Trust suggests further issues at the top’.


*Although described as Deputy Chief Executive, Murphy does not appear in the list of Turner Schools’ directors at Companies House.

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