Government has written to AET over ‘unacceptably low standards’ (updated)

A letter from Lord Nash, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, sent to Directors of AET in March said the standards of performance at the Academy were unacceptably low, and likely to remain low.

School warning sign

It has just come to light that AET (Academies Enterprise Trust), the company responsible for running two of the six secondary schools on the Isle of Wight was sent a ‘Pre-warning’ letter about Sandown Bay Academy by the Government’s Department for Education earlier this year.

The Academy, which was formed in 2011 after the former Conservative led-council reorganised the Isle of Wight school system from three to two tier, went into Special Measures in March this year ofter Ofsted found the school to be ‘Inadequate’ in all areas. Two other secondary schools on the Island, Cowes Enterprise College and Carisbrooke College are also in Special Measures.

Standards unacceptably low
The letter (embedded below and reported by the BBC) from Lord Nash, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, sent to Directors of AET on 21st March made it clear that he and the Secretary of State understood the standards of performance at the Academy were unacceptably low, and likely to remain low.

OnTheWight has been informed by the DfE that receiving a pre-warning letter is not standard practice when a school goes into Special Measures.

Failures highlighted
The letter highlighted several of the issues facing the school, including,

  • Attainment for pupils is 19% below the national average
  • Pupil performance is only just at the minimum floor standard of 40% achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs (or equivalent) including English and maths.
  • Not enough pupils make or exceed expected levels of progress, with only 51% of pupils making expected levels of progress in English and 60% making expected levels of progress in maths.
  • Attainment dropped from 50% of pupils achieving 5+ N – C GCSEs including English and maths in the predecessor school in 2011, to 40% achieving that level in the Academy in 2012.
  • The achievement of pupils at the Academy was judged inadequate by Ofsted.

In their most recent Ofsted inspection, the Inspector said the Academy’s targets are being missed by an ‘appreciable extent’ and it is not making enough progress towards the removal of Special Measures.

OnTheWight wrote to AET at 10.40am this morning about the letter they received in March, but at time of publishing had not received a comment from them on the matter.

Update 28th November:
A spokesperson for AET told OnTheWight,

“It is right that we, as sponsor, are under close scrutiny from the Department for Education for the performance of Sandown Bay Academy and take full responsibility for our actions.

“Since the original letter in March there have been marked improvements both in GCSE and A level results, but the rate of progress still needs to be at a quicker pace.

“We have full confidence that with the new leadership arrangements, and the continued efforts and commitment of staff and students, Sandown Bay Academy will move to a higher level to ensure that every learner receives at least a good quality education at the earliest opportunity.”

Improvements at Ryde
AET are the sponsor for both Sandown Bay and Ryde Academy, which itself escaped Special Measures but was branded by Ofsted as Inadequate in June 2013.

Ryde Academy has since gone on to show improvement.


Image: alexpanoiu under CC BY 2.0

Wednesday, 27th November, 2013 4:05pm



Filed under: Education, Isle of Wight News, Ofsted reports, Sandown, Top story

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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5 Comments on "Government has written to AET over ‘unacceptably low standards’ (updated)"

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Was this letter, Government’s Department for Education, the trigger that caused AET to ‘invite’ Mrs K-J to go quietly onto gardening leave so she could investigate her career opportunities elsewhere without the stigma of having been fired? Once she had a new job then she could quietly resign and if the resignation letter was sent after she had started elsewhere then the overlapping monies from Sandown could… Read more »

The letter is dated 21st March 2013. Mrs K-J was appointed to the permanent position the week before.

In as much as AET have been clear about anything (and they haven’t been very clear about anything), it does appear that they are now saying that Mrs K-J didn’t resign, she was sacked. See the latest comment from their spokesperson on the earlier story: “He (David Fuller) was wrong.” David Fuller is AET’s executive director for performance who, on November 18th, told Isle of Wight Radio:… Read more »
Albert Street

How much did Lord Nash – donation to the Conservatives Party – Peerage and a job in education?

Please let us have some real educationalists (former successful heads would be a good place to start) involved in education as opposed to more jobs for the boys.

Better Red than Bled

Surely enough is enough. We have endured all sorts of experiments on our children’s futures. This last experiment, giving commercial educationalists control over our money that we pay to have the next generation taught to be successful, has failed dismally.

Bring education back under council control, with proper school governance. Now! Before we throw yet another year of kids on to the scrap heap.