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News Headteacher turnover ‘is modest’

KENT’S cabinet member for education has defended the re- placement of 21 teachers across the county in the past two years as a “modest turnover”. It follows criticism about the suspension of six heads in the Maidstone area, many after damn- ing Ofsted reports. The head of St Peter’s School in

Aylesford, Simon Temple,was one such case. His sudden “disappear- ance” after a poor Ofsted inspec- tion was reported in Downs Mail. He left in April, but with little ex- planation for parents. In an in-depth interview with Downs Mail, the county council’s Roger Gough denied teachers have been sacked and defended the council’s moves to raise standards. He said: “A very small number

have left their posts as a result of disciplinary procedures, or the use of capability procedures when

performance has been a concern. “The very small number of headteachers who have left their posts for other reasons have done so following discussions about their ability to fulfil their roles and responsibilities – either following an Ofsted inspection or where the county council has had ongoing concerns. This is always in discus- sion with the governing body.” Cllr Gough said moves by the county council, in partnership with teachers, governors and Ofs- ted, were ensuring a significantly improving picture for education standards in the town’s primary schools. He added: “Maidstone has been

a cause of concern for poor school performance, achieving outcomes significantly poorer than other parts of Kent. This situation has begun to improve dramatically as a result of improvements in school leadership.”

reading, writing and maths. This year, all but two schools are pre- dicting to be significantly above this benchmark, and the over- whelming majority of primary schools currently judged by Of- sted to require improvement are on track to be good schools at their next inspection.” He said feedback from teachers

Cllr Roger Gough “In 2013, about 50% of Maid-

stone primary schools did not per- form aswell as schools nationally. In 2013, there were 11 local au- thority schools in Maidstone in which no more than 65% of pupils achieved a level 4 or above in

Money incentive for landlords

LANDLORDS in Maidstone are being offered a financial incentive to provide homes for people on the council’s housing register. The £2,500 one-off payment is

part of the Maidstone Council’s Maidstone homefinders scheme, which will help to provide good quality homes for families in need across the borough in the private rented sector.

Cllr Marion Ring, Maidstone Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “The Maidstone homefinders scheme offers land- lords a great incentive to work with us to provide housing and help us to ensure that everyone, including our most vulnerable res- idents, has a decent place to live.” As well as the one-off payment, the council arranges a free inven-

tory, and check in and check out of the tenant. In return, the council has nomination rights for tenants in the property. Each tenancy must be for at least 12 months, provid- ing stability for those families of- fered homes. Interested landlords can find

out more by calling 01622 602440 or email homefinders@maid-

had, on the whole, been positive, adding: “We support headteach- ers who can make improvements butwe do not accept repeated fail- ure to secure good learning out- comes for children, who only get one chance at education. “No parent would thank us for allowing situations to continue in which their children do not do well at school,” he said.

 For the full interview with Cllr Roger Gough, including his views on the growing number of acade- mies in Maidstone, log on to

Top of the pots

MAIDSTONE is “top of the pots” for road repairs in the county. Kent County Council has fixed 2,598 pot- holes in the borough so far this year as part of its “find and fix” cam- paign, 276 ahead of Sevenoaks. Fewer than 1,000 have been fixed in Tonbridge and Malling. KCC has filled about 21,000 pot-

holes this year – at a cost of about £790,000.

Community garden opens in Snodland

Community garden at Snodland railway station

KENT Community Rail Partner- ship, hosted by Sustrans, working with Network Rail, has opened an innovative community produce growing area in the disused goods yard at Snodland station. Local residents joined forces with Network Rail and Tonbridge and Malling Council more than two years ago to form a 30-strong team of volunteers to clean up the land between the platform and Churchfields in Snodland. In celebration of this new com- munity resource, an opening party

took place at the station goods yard entrance, where visitors were able to inspect the work.

Mike FitzGerald, chairman for the Kent Community Rail Partner- ship said: “This is an awesome new space for the local community. Young people from Holmesdale Technology College will be exer- cising their ‘green fingers’ in the smartened-up goods’ yard as part of their development.’

“I hope that this will bring the community together, and create a greater sense of ownership with

their local railway station.” The Kent Community Rail Part- nership is hosted by Sustrans – a charity that enables people to travel by foot, bike or public trans- port for more of their everyday journeys.

The Kent Community Rail Part- nership includes Sustrans, Kent County Council, Medway Council, Swale Council, Maidstone Council, Tonbridge and Malling Council, Southeastern, and parish and town councils along the lines, Nu-Ven- ture Coaches and others.

Hadlow benefits cheat must repay money

A HADLOW woman has been sen- tenced to 10 months imprison- ment, suspended for two years, and ‘tagged’ as part of a four- month curfew order for fiddling more than £94,000 in benefits. Cindi Gould (46), of The Pad- dock was convicted of benefit fraud at Maidstone Magistrates Court. She will have to wear a tag and remain at home between 8pm and 6am every day.

26 Malling July 2014

The court heard that she failed to notify Tonbridge and Malling Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that her partner was living with her. Mrs Gould originally claimed to be living without a partner and was claiming benefits as a lone parent.

Following an anonymous tip-off,

investigators obtained evidence that her partner was linked to her

address betwen March 2004 and April 2012. As a result, Gould was overpaid a total of £94,357.39 in housing and council tax benefits, income support and employment and support all owance. Gould, who pleaded not guilty, must repay all of the money that she fraudulently claimed. She also re- ceived a two-year supervision order.

Cllr Martin Coffin, Tonbridge

and Malling Council cabinet mem- ber for finance, said: “It’s very clear that Tonbridge and Malling residents will not tolerate benefit cheats in their communities. “This is just the latest in a grow- ing number of tip-offs we have re- ceived from the public and we will continue to follow up every lead to ensure that people who defraud the benefits system are caught and brought to justice.”

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