Twice as many pupils will enter Year 7 at the Goodwin Academy in September. The year group has been increased to seven forms due to high demand, with 197 children starting at the Deal school, compared to 104 last year.
It comes as the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT), which runs successful schools across Kent such as Rochester Grammar School and the Victory Academy, is set to take over as the academy's new sponsor. I held talks with Thinking Schools' chief executive Stuart Gardner and Goodwin Academy's Principal Simon Smith on Thursday (July 5th).
I called for a grammar stream to be introduced at Goodwin to give parents greater choice and to boost aspiration. More than 1,700 Deal children have to travel out of Deal every day to get to secondary school.
I'm delighted Thinking Schools Academy Trust, a sponsor with a proven track record of success, is taking over the Goodwin Academy. Stuart was clear – he always puts pupils' interests first and I'm really excited about what can be achieved. Everyone knows too many children in Deal have to travel out of town to get to school. So it's great that twice as many will be starting at Goodwin Academy this September.
It underlines why the new £25 million school building was worth fighting for. I think a grammar stream would be a brilliant addition to this school – and show just how ambitious the new trust is for students.
I also vowed to keep fighting for the school's debt, reported to be £3.5 million, to be written off. I recently raised the issue in the House of Commons, urging the Department for Education to take responsibility for the sum. He has also held meetings with the Education Secretary and Schools Ministers. The debt was built up by SchoolsCompany Trust, before a new interim chief executive and interim finance director were appointed earlier this year.
The Goodwin Academy has incredible potential to be one of the best schools in the area. So I will keep fighting for the debt to be written off. The £3.5 million was built up on the Department for Education's watch and they should take responsibility for it – not hard-working students and teachers. Meanwhile, of course, anyone at SchoolsCompany Trust found to be culpable must be brought to book.
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