every one of the six schools being inspected since September graded ‘Requires Improvement’ the replacement grade for ‘Satisfactory’, with not one of these schools improving its performance from the previous inspection. There are of course Maidstone schools which have proved exceptions to this general statement, including St Michael's CofE Infant School which was found Outstanding in 2011.
Of the schools elsewhere in Kent, there is a massive improvement individual schools' previous inspection result, with 30 schools upping their rating and just four declining. Of course this has all been done at a cost, and the number of Kent primary headteachers leaving their posts mid-year appears anecdotally to be higher than last year.
This improvement could be partially down to the new OFSTED grading system being more generous than its predecessor, and we don’t yet have national statistics to compare but, given the uncompromising attitude of the Chief OFSTED Inspector, this would appear hardly likely. Instead, I believe it is because of a new positive attitude and higher expectations in Kent, which is bringing results. Congratulations to all concerned, but do spare a thought for the casualties, often school leaders who have given their very best for their schools, but have not been able to deliver for whatever reason.
For comparison, I also looked at the Medway figures. With just 12 schools inspected, this is a less reliable measure, but even here, there is a distinct upward movement, with 50% ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Good’, up from 34%. However, two schools failed the OFSTED since September, the same as in Kent, but with a quarter of the numbers. On the other hand, St Nicholas CofE Infant School in Strood deserves special mention, as the only Medway primary school to be awarded an ‘Outstanding’ OFSTED in the past four years, out of a total of 71 inspections. Kent has 20 in the same period, including Cobham Primary school and Sheldwich Primary school who have achieved this accolade since September.
This is the first of a regular series of articles for Kent on Sunday. You will find the original here.