Putney Ark Academy or Richmond Park Academy?

(40 Posts)
joochiat Thu 14-Mar-13 06:13:22

Anyone have any first hand experience of Putney Ark or RPA? I've read posts about RPA but nothing on Putney (formerly Eliot). OK I know they were both failing schools in well to do areas that have been taken over by Academies. We currently live in Singapore and so don't know much about this sort of situation, but since we'll be returning in June its going to be a hurry to find places for Year 7 Sept!! Doesn't look like we'll get much of a chance with any of the oversubscribed schools in Putney or Richmond, so now I'm trying to get my head around these two academies. Any advice would be great....my kid is very sporty, fairly academic, and used to a small school and inquiry-based learning.

Elibean Mon 22-Apr-13 21:41:47

A group of us from dd's primary went to look around RPA the other day, and were pretty impressed. A lot of building going on, and loads of students were out on a field trip, so hard to get a total picture - but staff were very enthusiastic, the classes are small, children are very well supported and all the kids we met were keen, well behaved, and happy to talk to us.

The pastoral care seemed excellent, and dd would love the art department....and we will go back and look at it again next year, as we have time.

Can't comment on Putney, as know nothing, but friends with children at RPA are very happy with it (one lad I know there is hugely bright, and his mum says he is being stretched appropriately).

anniesw Thu 25-Apr-13 18:22:41

RPA had a public speaking competition for some local primaries yesterday. Y5 children had been coached by RPA Y10 students - it was a great event and the students were impressive

MrsSalvoMontalbano Fri 26-Apr-13 09:01:29

Predicting here that in a few years time, say 4, Mumsnetters will be fretting about how to live near enough to get inot RPA grin, I think the 'tipping point' is reached or nearly reached in terms of local parents' confidence so likely to be a positive ratchet effect.

warwick1 Thu 16-May-13 14:20:20

Strange then that the Department of Education has barred the Academies Enterprise Trust which runs RPA from taking on any more schools because they are failing to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the schools that they are already managing.

Does the DFE know something that parents of RPA don't ?

Copthallresident Thu 16-May-13 17:38:32

Warwick What the parents at RPA and Ofsted know is that RPA has an outstanding leader and an outstanding team leading huge improvements, and courtesy of the sponsoring body they also now have the investment needed to implement their plan. I am probably sympathetic to your views on the wider issues around Academy sponsors but this local school was allowed to fall, through bad management and lack of investment, into quite shameful decline though served by outstanding primaries and surrounded by outstanding secondary's serving similar relatively affluent leafy catchments. Now those problems are being addressed and it is on course to become outstanding. Sorry but if you want evidence to support your criticisms of the political policy, and to stir up negativity, move on, nothing for you here.

warwick1 Thu 16-May-13 18:12:44

Sponsors like AET don't bring investment. All academies get government funding irrespective of whether they are sponsored or converted. If RPA are doing well it probably is down to local management. If the AET was doing well in supporting the schools they have the DFE wouldn't have barred them from taking on more.

Copthallresident Thu 16-May-13 20:03:46
MrsSalvoMontalbano Thu 16-May-13 20:09:19

RPA was left to rot by the LA. Since the academy took over it has improved dramatically, and the local leadership given the support and injection of good practice that was woefully lacking before. So whatever the politics of it all, the academy is succeeding where the LA failed.

muminlondon Thu 16-May-13 22:50:45

I think, regardless of how AET is doing in its other schools (yes it still has three secondary schools in special measures - it has expanded rapidly within the last couple of years by taking over many failing schools), there are local differences.

In the case of RPA, the decision to convert was to access the generous building grants under the last government, which was desperately needed then and have since been cut by the Conservatives.

And secondly, the local community seems at least to have some representation in its governing body - including the cabinet member for Richmond council and ex-governors of nearby primary schools. It is the only local option for many children so it's really important for them that the school succeeds and is supported.

riddlesgalore Fri 17-May-13 16:46:07

I have been following the comments on this thread with interest as I am moving from Essex where the AET have been controlling several academies for many years with little success, despite many promises. Obviously I am therefore rather sceptical about sending my children to another AET run academy, particularly now that I hear they have been barred from taking on any more schools.

I am pleased RPA are receiving investment (as the Essex academies did), however acquiring that investment had little to do with the AET, investment appears political and academies seem to be rewarded once they accept becoming an academy, whoever the sponsor is. Naturally the sponsor always claims credit along with the local MP's and LA education cabinet members.

I do however find it surprising that RPA was turned around from being in 'special measures' to 'good' in two years. Was it really deserving of special measures in the first place or was it just part of the political manoeuvring that appeared to go on under the old academy conversion system in order to get government investment.

Reading the comments, it appears to me that the turn around in the school has more to do with local management than the AET, which in my opinion is a plus. If so, RPA will not have to rely on AET support in the future and risk back sliding as the AET turn their attention back to those academies they failed as they pursed their rapid expansion plans.

anniesw Fri 17-May-13 17:53:35

Riddles - isn't that a good thing - that RPA has been the main driver in its turnaround? It makes it all so much more sustainable. As a parent there I can see that there are some very positive things AET have introduced - but direction comes from the school which I am in favour of

muminlondon Fri 17-May-13 19:18:31

It was rated 'unsatisfactory' and given notice to improve (not quite special measures) in September 2007. In November 2008 after the current head started (there had been five heads in as many years so badly needed leadership and stability) a monitoring visit by Ofsted said it had made significant improvements and was now satisfactory although that wasn't a full reinspection. So a lot of the turnaround is down to her over since she started five years ago.

But there was a delay while local politicians argued about the sponsor, which was indeed a condition for the rebuild, and just how involved the council (meant to be co-sponsor) - or even Boris Johnson - should be. So that didn't help - it is a relief now for the school and whole community for it to have finally got the rebuild underway.

The Ofsted report comments on governance:

'While continuing to oversee the academy’s development, the Academies Enterprise Trust has stepped back from close involvement in day-to-day leadership and management. Checks and support are provided by the AET’s Regional Director for Education.'

Elibean Fri 17-May-13 21:21:25

Riddles, I can only speak as a local parent....but yes, it was dire, and yes, it is hugely improved and having been to look around, I felt confident my pfb dd would do well there, should she choose it/get in.

A lot of work has gone in to turning RPA around (including local parents, Head, staff - not just AET by any means) and it shows. There is enormous motivation for it to succeed, too.

Copthallresident Fri 17-May-13 21:31:33

And part of the scandal of the school's decline is that it always did have that input by local parents. The history of the governing body is littered with the bodies of all the able parents who tried to stop the decline or improve it from the inside but without school leadership and investment they had no hope of succeeding. I doubt AET would have a hope of sabotaging the local input to governance.

muminlondon Fri 17-May-13 23:37:18

There was more from Ofsted published today on progress in English at RPA. It's worth remembering the hard work and dedication of teachers in so many of our schools, and the needs of children, whatever the politicians throw at them.

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