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Saturday, 26 October 2013 06:56

Medway Council (sort of) reports the appalling fall in the standards of its primary schools, as measured by OFSTED.

Medway Council has now published its Report on school OFSTED results for the school year 2012-2013. It is obvious that a great deal of thought has gone into preparation of this Report, but it is unfortunate that the authors have not read my two previous articles on the subject from this website, as otherwise they would have been able to identify the crucial issue in Medway. 

To assist them and any readers of the Report, the key finding is that just 39% of the primary schools under Medway’s control inspected this year achieved a Good or Outstanding OFSTED in this period. This is a lower figure than any other Local Authority in the country in 2011-12, the last year for which national results  (follow link and go to bottom of PDF Report) are available. It reveals a dramatic fall from the previous year’s deplorable result of 54% of Medway Primary Schools inspected achieving a 'Good or Outstanding' standard, then the ninth worst Local Authority in the country.  It is also in the opposite direction to the national trend, with primary school OFSTED results improving nationally over the same period (OFSTED interim figures, but we await the 2012-13 OFSTED annual report for confirmation). 

Even if one assists by adding All Faith’s Children's Community School, the primary academy which was inspected this year (not under Medway's control but achieving a 'good' classification), the figure only rises to 41%. This is still below the lowest Local Authority nationally for 2011-12, which achieved 42%........

Of the 6 Medway Primary Schools with failed OFSTEDs  which have not been re-visited by the end of July 2013, Medway is able to deduce that there are just two now “in an OFSTED category of concern” (failed): St Mary’s Island and Gordon Junior. This is because four have been closed, three re-opened as academies, and Sherwin Knight Junior becoming part of the new amalgamated Cedar Primary School.

There is no mention of Barnsole Primary School, formed from the amalgamation of the Barnsole Infant and Junior Schools, the latter having failed its OFSTED in 2011.  An OFSTED Inspection of this new school in March, which took place under a different procedure because of the amalgamation, was critical of its operation and leadership, concluding that:  “the school is not making enough progress in raising standards for all pupils”.

It is unfortunate that the Medway Report combines its primary school OFSTED outcomes with the academies, for which it has no responsibility, and its two Outstanding Special Schools, as this completely loses the full dismal state of Medway’s primary provision.

Certainly, this report contains no hint of the state of crisis in that provision in Medway as it appears to be heading remorsely downwards, against national trends. The only sign of hope lies with the academies (I hate to write this, but Medway is special), free of Medway’s control, with 71% of the OFSTED outcomes being 'Good or Outstanding'. This enables the Council to boast that there has been an 8% increase in the proportion of good or better schools inspected in Medway in the year, but no mention of the  astonishing decline in 15% of controlled primary schools achieving the same standard.  

The Report was prepared by three senior Medway officers, all with a responsibility for school improvement or performance in their job titles. Perhaps it is no coincidence there is no indication in the Report that in Medway, primary school OFSTED standards have actually fallen further, sharply and disgracefully from their previous appalling standard, over the past year.

Until Medway Council begins to acknowledge this dreadful state of affairs, as Kent did in a similar situation two years ago, it will not be able to make progress. 

I look in vain for the Council apology to its primary school children, whose futures it is failing so miserably.  Actually, children are not mentioned once. 

Last modified on Sunday, 27 October 2013 17:19

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