By Andy Tong andy@timesoftonbridge.co.uk

LEARNING PROCESS The 750-pupil school on Brook Street became an academy in 2010

HAYESBROOK School in Tonbridge and the trust that runs it have issued a robust defence of its standards following critical comments in the media.

The Brook Learning Trust’s annual report stated, ‘unless 2018-19 funding is higher than expected, the trust may not have sufficient funds to continue to operate for that academic year’.

This warning, issued in December and relating to accounts last August, was widely reported in local newspapers.

Parents took to social media platforms to vigorously state their support for Hayesbrook and criticise the articles.

‘Other claims made within one of the articles are not true and not representative of our success’

The trust believes the report was taken out of context and was highlighting a national problem rather than a local one.

The school Principal, Daniel Hatley, and the trust Chief Executive Carol Morris wrote a letter of reassurance to parents.

It said: “We are writing in response to the recent press attention that both The Hayesbrook School and the Brook Learning Trust have received.

“The information we are sharing with you below had already been given to the press but did not make it into the articles they have chosen to publish.”

The letter insisted that the accounts report was evidence of wider concerns among all education providers.

“Brook Learning Trust is not in a deficit situation,” it said. “Many Trusts, including ourselves, have reported concerns to the government through the published accounts in response to the national funding climate.”

It adds: “Other claims made within one of the articles are not true and not representative of the success, culture and ethos of our academies.”

In one newspaper, former headteacher and ‘education consultant’ Peter Read said of Hayesbrook and the trust’s two other schools, High Weald Academy in Cranbrook and Ebbsfleet Academy in Swanscombe: “The three schools are amongst the worst in the county.”

Media accounts focused on concerns about falling numbers at High Weald and the effect that a decline would have on per-pupil funding.

The Trust’s report stated: “The vast majority of funding…is sensitive to changes in pupil numbers. All three academies face challenges.”

Mr Read questioned whether those who had enrolled would take up their places, with the article claiming 38 per cent of pupils due to start in September had not applied to Hayesbrook.

But the parents’ letter points out: “The Hayesbrook School has also been recognised as one of Kent’s top five non-selective secondary schools based on the summer 2017 results and continues to demonstrate an increase in pupil attendance.

“We are very pleased that for the second year in a row the number of families choosing the Hayesbrook School has increased.”

The Trust told the Times: “We are very clear that we will not compromise the quality of education we deliver for financial or any other reasons and The Hayesbrook School will continue to operate as normal for the pupils and parents it serves.”

It added that numbers were rising for a third year in a row and said: “The overriding reason for the year on year increases at The Hayesbrook School is the increasing positive reputation, academic success and wider knowledge of the excellent experience the school provides for its boys.”

What the parents said on Facebook

This article was very misleading. Scare mongering new and potential parents/pupils is not going to help the matter

Sarah Lines

All schools are facing challenges due to government cuts and in a town full of grammar schools Hayesbrook are performing really well. Lovely to see much support from other parents

Lucy Athey

I have 2 boys at Hayesbrook, they are doing very well and have made some great friends. The teachers are very dedicated and immediately sort out any issues should they arise. Do not be put off by this article!!

Becky Mitchell

I don’t normally comment on Facebook but this has made me cross! This article is clearly written by a man who has his own agenda and self interests at heart some how or other! My 6th son is due to start Hayesbrook in Sept and I would not dream of sending him anywhere else.

Emma Gill

Hayesbrook has been an excellent school for my two boys. Very good teachers who give up a lot of time especially in GCSE year to put lots of revision sessions on.

Lorraine Hale

My son is now in year ten at Hayesbrook and I’ve been very pleased with the school. I think people struggle to see past the relatively run down buildings which is a shame because it is a good school.

Clare Nichols

Hayesbrook and Ofsted

The 750-pupil boys’ school (with a mixed sixth form) on Brook Street became an academy in 2010 and the trust evolved from that change.

Its Ofsted report in 2008 rated the school’s overall effectiveness as ‘outstanding’, while another inspection in 2013 saw it rated ‘good’.

An Ofsted letter last year said: ‘The leadership team has maintained the good quality of education’ but added ‘there was insufficient progress made by disadvantaged pupils’.