The shameful legacy of Dr Karon Buck.

Dr Karon Buck was the Principal of Medway UTC from July 2014 – December 2017 (3 years 6 months). In this time Dr Karon Buck’s LinkedIn profile (recently deleted / made private) noted she was  – 

Founding Principal of a fantastic new school for 14-19 year students from Medway and the surrounding regions. Medway UTC opened in September 2015 and specialises in Engineering, Construction & Design as well as core subjects including English, maths, science, DT, history, computing, business & art. 

Medway UTC is working with major sponsors including BAE, BAM, Bouygues, Gainwell Futures, Kreston Reeves, The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), & The University of Greenwich. Working with industrial leaders gives my students the opportunity to work alongside the very best professionals in their area of expertise.

The students and staff at Medway UTC work in a new state-of-the-art, purpose built building at Chatham Waters, in the historic Chatham Docks. The legacy of this location is perfect as we take engineering and construction forward into the 21st Century.

Dr Karon Buck’s profile mentioned she was an Ofsted inspector from May 2015 to the time she left Medway UTC in December 2017 when she took up the position of Principal and CEO of GEMS Winchester School (WSA) Abu Dhabi. Dr Karon Buck’s ‘Welcome message from the principal’ on the schools website proclaims – 

Education serves many purposes, one of which is to provide children and young adults with the knowledge and skills that will lead to them fulfilling all of their ambitions. Education is about people, aspirations and the ability to achieve… I strongly believe achievement and enjoyment go hand in hand to ensure each child’s excellent progress.

This is not too dissimilar with the claim she made in when starting at Medway UTC in 2014 –

I will be working tirelessly to ensure that regional UTC provides the very best education and life-chances for our young people.

 – and building on this summary from her LinkedIn page at the time –

Experienced senior leader. Specialising in improving the outcomes of young learners by ensuring that teachers, middle & senior leaders are equipped and skilled to provide the very best quality of teaching; and that the curriculum provides challenge and opportunities so that all learners are able to experience success and develop into resilient young adults who are able to contribute positively to society. Passionate that, as educationists, we never lose touch of the real purpose of education.

Odd that someone who professes such principles and who should understand the importance of succession planning and good governance left the school prior to a new principle being appointed and not feel it necessary to see the academic year through to the end. 

Dr Karon Buck
Dr Karon Buck

Medway UTC have recently received the outcome of their first Ofsted inspection, undertaken in March 2018. The school is rated grade four – inadequate in all areas. The report is highly critical of leadership throughout Dr Karon Buck’s tenure at the school. 

…senior leaders and governors had an overgenerous view of the quality of education provided by the school.

Governors and leaders have not demonstrated that they have the capacity needed to
secure the improvements needed. Actions they have taken have been too slow,
ineffective or have been too recent to have had sufficient effect.

Leaders have not been effective in establishing a culture of high expectation since the UTC opened in September 2015.

During the first two years of the school, some teachers were never observed teaching by senior leaders; others did not have a clear line management system. Over time, leaders had not identified areas where teaching has not been effective enough because they had the impression that it was better than it was.

Over time, governors and previous senior leaders have failed to support staff at all levels to do their jobs.

The curriculum is too narrow and does not meet pupils’ needs. In addition, the school has not met the requirements for the provision of physical education or religious education.

The timing of Dr Karon Buck’s desertion of Medway UTC appears self-serving, cowardly and cynical. It was perhaps aligned with her aspirations, enjoyment and progress more so than those of students at the school. 

One of our boys has been at the UTC for the last two years. During this time he has told us of many instances of poor teaching and supervision, a lack of opportunities provided in a number of areas and general low level of engagement and support by teaching staff. We raised this with the school In January and deeply regret not doing so sooner.

We took a risk moving our son to UTC in the hope that he would be inspired and have opportunities to do well. It turns out that was a mistake. Year 11 exam results will be to his credit and by virtue of the hard work he has put into revising at home since January of this year and the new leadership team of the school. Our son, his peers and the staff at Medway UTC are now tarnished by Dr Karon Buck’s legacy. She ought to be ashamed.

UPDATE 08/18: Our son passed his exams well enough to go onto 6th form. He has chosen to transfer to another school. 

By monaxle

Dad to four boys. Married to their mum. A satisficer. Lifelong cyclist, wannabe nomad, casual snapper and music lover. Occasional glimmers of creativity. Left field, anti establishment and non conformist tendencies. Green politics. Employment in mental health and children and adults social care. Open to learning, development and growth. Often get things wrong. Sometimes getting them right.

Current digital profile along the lines of #Mastodon, #Ubuntu, #NextcloudPi, #Thunderbird, #LibreOffice, #Gimp, #DigiKam, #KeePassXC, #Brave and #StandardNotes. It’s all #foss to me.

Views and opinions are my own or plagiarised and/or paraphrased from elsewhere. Whether these are right, wrong, misinformed or inspired is pretty much down to chance and your own judgement. Be well, be happy, be safe.

13 replies on “The shameful legacy of Dr Karon Buck.”

Unfortunatelly she came to gems wenchister school , her 1st priority is to stop mentioning any bad reviews at the school’s page claiming it is your school reputation .

and she came to gems wiwnchester school and after 1 year made it bankrupt and the students are suffering now because students are not getting good rewards and once they didnt even give a trip to a grade once which is very bad.

Please get your homework done before sabotaging a great person’s reputation. This is someone work in WSA okay. All your claims are rubbish. We have got excellent ratings and our students rewarded for each and every little act of goodness. She has plans and will make our school the best school in town with her great ideas. If had time I could go on and on highlighting all the revolutionary things happening in school but I guess I have proved my point.

Dr karon is a great human being . She is very professional and kind woman . My kids studied in gems winchester for one year . Dr karon cope-rated with us in every single matter . She was always on the main gate to greet the parents and say good bye to the children . I will always remember her . I have great respect for her in my heart .

For the record, the new management obviously had their own agenda when Ofsted visited Medway UTC last year. I find it very interesting that there was no mention of the following in the report:
Medway UTC’s Construction results (2017) for both 16 and 18 year olds were in the top 5% in the country.
Medway UTC’s Engineering results (2017) for both 16 year olds and 18 year olds were in the top 10% in the country.
Medway UTC had 0 NEETs in 2017, this means everyone who left Medway UTC in the summer of 2017 had an offer of university, college, apprenticeship or employment .
All of these things are massive achievements given the starting points of the majority of students when they joined the UTC either in Y10 or Y12.
There was a robust teaching and learning quality assurance and staff CPD programme in place since the opening of the UTC, but this was obviously not brought to Ofsted attention either.
The then new management now have the UTC as part of their academy trust, thanks to the diabolical, and misleading Ofsted report, and against the wishes of the then UTC governors, who were very concerned about the financial vulnerabilities of this Trust.

Regarding the hateful comments in this article about my departure from the UTC, the governor’s were informed of this in good time, and I agreed to stay for the 1st term of the new academic year, as we were expecting to have our Ofsted visit during that first term, inevitably that didn’t happen, although I’m sure if it had, the outcome would’ve been different.

Finally, why did I feel the need to leave the UTC, a school I had built up from drawing board to the first cohort of Zero NEETs students. The UTC faced many challenges, including other local schools using it as PRU equivalent for their most behaviourally and academically challenged students – the number of students who actually came to the UTC because they were interested in Engineering and/or Construction were certainly not the majority. Despite the fact that the RSC and the DfE were constantly lobbied and were well aware of the challenges, especially the off-loading of students, faced not just by Medway UTC, but by many UTCs, very little was done to provide support. Therefore, I knew that there was little else I could do realise my vision.

It has taken me a year to respond to the cruelty and hatefulness of this article, and I am doing so now, as I owe it to the parents at my current school and also to those pioneering parents and students who joined the UTC in 2015.

Re-posted due to a year date mistake in 1st posting

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