E-Act, a long-established academy trust with a chequered history, took over Burnham Upper School in April 2012 and renamed it E-Act Burnham Park Academy.
In the last five years, pupil numbers at E-Act Burnham Park ‘have declined drastically’, wrote inspectors after visiting in March. The academy remained inadequate.
Last year, E-Act announced it would close the academy citing falling numbers. But the slump took place during E-Act’s tenure. Inspectors said Burnham Park ‘has not provided a good quality of education for its pupils since opening as an academy in 2012’. During this time the academy seems to have been locked in a cycle of decline: staff turbulence, recruitment difficulties and closure of the sixth form.
‘…over time, trustees, the regional education team and school leaders have overseen a decline in pupils’ outcomes, attendance and the quality of teaching, learning and assessment,’ Ofsted said.
The fault surely lies with E-Act. Inspectors say the head and his team ‘are passionately committed to the pupils and frustrated by the proposed closure’.
A decision hasn’t been made yet but E-Act trustees have told the academy’s leaders to concentrate on relocating pupils and staff to a nearby Bourne End E-Act Academy, inspectors wrote. E-Act has only been running Bourne End since September 2018.
Given E-Act’s troubled past and the 2016 inadequate judgement of Burnham Park, it’s hard to understand why the regional schools commissioner gave permission for E-Act to take over Bourne End. Since then, E-Act has been warned it risks losing funding for two of its academies after they were judged inadequate.
Unsurprisingly, this threat hanging over E-Act does not feature in a letter* dated 15 May sent by David Moran, E-Act’s Chief Executive Officer, updating parents about the proposed move to Bourne End. The trust had tried to put off Ofsted saying the academy could be closing but inspectors were not deterred. The trust feels the report ‘fails to accurately reflect Burnham Park E-ACT Academy’s progression in recent years.’
E-Act is writing its ‘formal response’ to the public consultation about closing Burnham Park and this should be available this month.
*I have seen the letter but am unable to provide a link. It does not appear to be publicly available on Burnham Park’s website.