Oasis gives up Isle of Sheppey academy where most pupils absent

School with four below-'good' ratings in a row will become the first to ever leave England's sixth-largest trust

School with four below-'good' ratings in a row will become the first to ever leave England's sixth-largest trust

9 Feb 2023, 17:00

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Oasis Community Learning will give up control of a school for the first time, after a damning ‘inadequate’ Ofsted report that found more than half of pupils did not attend regularly.

Oasis Academy Isle Of Sheppey has never been rated ‘good’ or better since opening from the merger of two schools in 2009, with Oasis, the sixth largest trust in England, taking over as sponsor in 2014.

The school has been rated ‘requires improvement’ three times since, before sliding into special measures last year. 

Inspectors found more than half of pupils were not attending regularly, while behaviour was “often dangerous” and the trust did “too little to tackle…racist, sexist and homophobic language”.

The school has seen “too many false fresh starts”, the watchdog warned.

The Department for Education then issued a termination warning notice, threatening to rebroker the school if unconvinced Oasis could deliver rapid improvement.

Parents and staff were told of the transfer today, but a new sponsor has not yet been named.

Trust gives up school ‘with heavy heart’

Isle of Sheppey will be the first school to ever transfer out of 52-school Oasis, which was one of the first academy trusts in England when it launched in 2005.

A trust spokesperson said Oasis was handing over the school “with a heavy heart”, but it followed a “mutual agreement” with government.

Oasis had been unable to deliver the “exceptional” environment young people deserve, despite staff’s hard work, significant investment and new processes, the spokesperson added.

“There are considerable challenges to providing exceptional secondary education on the island, not least the levels of disadvantage that some experience.”

Parts of the Isle of Sheppey rank among the most deprived tenth of areas nationally.

Last year the trust also highlighted challenges including “increased disengagement” during Covid and recruitment challenges for attendance support staff.

The trust has previously said it “intentionally positioned our education services within some of the most challenging and disadvantaged communities”.

Kent Online reported last year that penalty notices for absence across the county were among the highest in England.

New DfE powers to intervene earlier

The government began alerting schools with repeat ‘requires improvement’ ratings they were newly dubbed ‘coasting’ and eligible to be rebrokered in the autumn. Previously powers applied only to ‘inadequate’ schools.

The DfE could have intervened in this case as early as 2015 if the powers had been introduced earlier.

It has emphasised intervention will only be used on a “case-by-case” basis however, and only maintained schools and standalone academies have a ‘presumption in favour’ of rebrokering.

A government spokesperson said the Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey transfer would ensure “appropriate steps are taken to provide the best possible standard of education”.

It is working to ensure a smooth transfer after it was “mutually agreed” with Oasis.

A trust spokesperson said it remains “deeply committed” to the school and wider community. The Oasis charity will keep helping partners with youth and community work beyond the transfer.

In total, 21 of the 25 most recent inspections of Oasis schools were ‘good’ or better.

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