Non selective schools have received a double whammy as government no longer counts students who have improved their grades by repeating subjects (an important incentive for students for whom success may not come naturally) and no longer counts some practical and creative subjects (often taken by students with aptitudes in such subjects) forcing a focus on academic subjects only. Sadly, this will act as a disincentive for too many young people whose aptitudes lie outside the purely academic curriculum.
The struggling schools nearly all show a sharp decline over the past few years: Marlowe Academy, 6% (now closed); St George’s CofE Foundation, Thanet, one of the most oversubscribed schools in the county, 12% (whose headteacher has been rewarded by being put in charge of Charles Dickens School additionally, after the latter's headteacher was removed for failing his school, even though its results are considerably better than St George's over the past two years); Pent Valley Technology College, almost certainly closing this summer, 15%; Spires Academy, 17% (Executive Headteacher from Simon Langton Girls who are likely to sponsor it when SLGGS becomes an academy), all fall below my adjusted floor target.
Other schools below 25% are: Ellington and Hereson now renamed Royal Harbour Academy at 23%; followed by The North School and Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academy. The North, placed in Special Measures two years ago, when at 42% has sadly declined ever since to 24% under new management, whilst Sheppey has actually improved over the previous year when it was second worst in the county at 19%. Robert Napier on 26% is the lowest performing Medway school.
I have recently learned that the Community College, Whitstable, another regular low performing school with its worst ever figure of 28% this year, losing its head as a consequence, is paying an additional price, being taken over by the acquisitive Swale Academy Trust, currently looking after both The North and Pent Valley (see above).
With this constraint in mind, the best performing schools measured by average A Level points per student are: Dover Grammar School for Girls, 1087; Invicta, 1059; Highsted, 1009; Judd, 1000; and Mayfield, 956; with Rochester Grammar some way behind at 899 - top school in Medway.
The government is starting to acknowledge that schools start from different baselines. but also wants to force them onto a narrower curriculum range and has invented new scales that are planned to become its key measures of performance. The figures will only be available on a school by school basis and "there will be no need" to share them with individual students.
Attainment 8 will measure the achievement of a pupil across 8 qualifications including mathematics (double weighted) and English (double weighted), 3 further qualifications that count in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) measure and 3 further qualifications that can be GCSE qualifications (including EBacc subjects) or any other non-GCSE qualifications on the DfE approved list. Progress 8 aims to capture the progress a pupil makes from the end of primary school to the end of secondary school. A Progress 8 score will be calculated for each pupil by comparing their achievement –their Attainment 8 score – with the average Attainment 8 score of all pupils nationally who had a similar starting point (or ‘prior attainment’), calculated using assessment results from the end of primary school. Schools were able to volunteer to take part in the trial this year. With a Progress 8 score representing the average progress from the end of primary school, a high proportion of the top performers are still grammar schools. In Kent they are headed up by Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar on 0.81, tenth out of the 327 volunteer schools in the, closely followed by Skinners, 0.8. Then come: Bennett Memorial (three Tunbridge Wells schools heading the table!) and Dartford Grammar, 0.63; Weald of Kent Grammar 0.58; Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical 0.54; and Maidstone Girls Grammar, 0.44. The Malling School was the next non-selective school at 0.15; closely followed by Dartford Science and Technology College at 0.14. Apart from a few other Kent grammar schools, and one in Medway there were no other local schools with a positive score, and no Medway non-selective schools took part. Totally unsurprisingly, the Attainment scores are headed up by grammar schools, with Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar heading the local list, followed by Maidstone Grammar Girls and then Weald of Kent.
A different measure of % of pupils making expected progress, 11-16, is again dominated by the selective schools, highest non-selective performers in English being Northfleet Technology College with 90%; Greenacre Academy, Medway, 88%; St Gregory's Catholic, St John's Catholic and St Simon Stock Catholic, all 87%; and Skinners Kent Academy and Thomas Aveling, Medway, 86%. Six grammar schools come below all these, lowest being: Sir Roger Manwood's on 80%; Maidstone Grammar 79% (a perennial problem in English); Dane Court Grammar at 78%; and Chatham Grammar School for Girls, 71%. For maths, in amongst the lowest four grammar performers are Bennett on 79%, St Simon Stock, 83%; and Skinners Kent Academy, 86%. Lowest % of pupils making expected progress in maths are unsurprisingly: Marlowe: 18%; Spires 30%; St George's, Broadstairs, and Pent Valley 32%; and The North 33%.
Yet another measure is the Value Added for disadvantaged pupils from 11-16. Whilst grammar schools still dominate the highest places, inevitably they are working with small numbers. With a Value Added score of 1000 being the 'average' school, Rochester Grammar comes top with its disadvantaged pupils with 1047, followed by Wilmington Girls' Grammar with 1044 and Dartford Grammar, 1036. However, Orchards Academy, with a consistently respectable GCSE performance of 51% this year, came third in the county with 1034. Next comes Invicta Grammar on 1033, followed by three Medway schools: Thomas Aveling; Sir Joseph Williamson's; and Chatham Grammar Boys'. The next four non-selective schools are: Bennett Memorial; Westlands; Northfleet Technology; St Anselm's Catholic; St Edmund's Catholic; and St Simon Stock Catholic.
|School Data for 2015 GCSE Cohort|
|St George's||Hartsdown||Charles Dickens|
|% GCSE A-Cs||12%||36%||30%|
% of Disadvantaged
|% of Free School Meals||36%||60%||34%|
% of pupils English not
|% of SEN Statements||1%||3%||0%|
% of cohort lower
% Expected progress
% Expected progress
% of disadvantaged pupils
5 GCSE A-C
|Most recent OFSTED||Good||Good||Special Measures|
*'Expected Progress' is progress from KS2 standard to GCSE.