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Friday, 29 November 2013 08:16

OFSTED outcomes Since September: Medway remains grim, Kent slightly better

As I have been very busy since September, my website postings have been fewer than normal. This one is designed to catch up on OFSTED news in Kent and Medway since then, before the OFSTED Annual Report for 2012-13 is published, expected to contain bad news yet again for Kent and Medway primary schools. For 2011-12, both Local Authorities were in the bottom 10 in the country for percentage of Good and Outstanding OFSTEDs, but Medway has fallen further, against a national trend of improvement, and on these figures I anticipate it to be at or very close to the bottom this time round. You will find a previous article and links to others here. Although Kent's outcomes remain low, there was considerable improvement on individual outcomes. 

I have published elsewhere on this website every Kent and Medway primary school OFSTED decision in recent years; and an excerpt from the most recent secondary OFSTED for Kent and Medway

Since September, the news from Medway remains dreadful but, even though it is just a small sample, it shows a continuation of last year's shocking statistics. Even more worrying is the continued poor performance  of those schools inspected last June as part of a focused inspection in Medway which ought to have been targeted by Medway for improvement. Kent also continues to be well below national averages, but more schools have improved their assessment as slipped back.  

Outstanding Good
Inadequate Up Down
Kent 32 0 59% 34% 6% 8 6
Medway 9 0 22% 67% 11% 1 3
Most recent national   18% 60% 19% 2%    


Outstanding Good
Inadequate Up Down
Kent 162 2% 54% 35% 9% 67 35
Medway 35 6% 34% 46% 14% 7 6


 OFSTED inspected 10 Medway schools in June as part of a targeted Inspection, with the five Medway controlled primary schools inspected ALL being found to Require Improvement. One would have assumed that Medway Council should ensure there was a focus on these schools to improve their standards, especially as  OFSTED now returns to carry out a Monitoring Inspection of such schools. Two of the five, Napier Community Primary School & Nursery and Walderslade Primary School are the first to be revisited. However, such necessary support is evidently sadly lacking from the Reports.

For Napier Community Primary School and Nursery, OFSTED found that “Senior leaders and governors are not taking effective action to tackle the areas requiring improvement identified at the last section 5 inspection....The local authority rightly recognises the school is in need of considerable support and has commissioned a Local Leader of Education (headteacher of a better performing school). However this has not been effective in ensuring the school tackles its priorities in a logical order and is not sufficient to help overcome the significant challenges it faces”. For Walderslade Primary School, "Senior leaders and governors are not taking effective action to tackle the areas requiring improvement identified at the last section 5 inspection and plans are not sharply focused on rapidly bringing about improvement....Support given to the deputy headteacher to write a school improvement plan for the new academic year was ineffective. Advisers from the local authority did not do enough to check that the school’s new improvement plan was fit for purpose, even though inspectors had reported that plans were not sharply focused in June". What an indictment of the Local Authority performance, but they still cruise on regardless of the damage being inflicted on Medway children's education. Cuxton Junior School has been placed in Special Measures, having failed its OFSTED on every single measure. Just 2 out of 9 primary schools inspected since September have been found to be good, with three having seen their grading decline against just one improvement. Gordon Junior School, failed with Serious Weaknesses has had a monitoring Inspection, which identifies some good practice, but with the temporary headteacher who is responsible for this, leaving in December - "However, (Medway Council) is aware of the concerns over the future leadership of the school and given the imminent change in senior leadership it has not provided the necessary reassurance to the governing body". Is there no end to this? 

Sadly, out of 41 Kent and Medway primary schools inspected since September, not one has been found Outstanding, even though according to national statistics one would have expected 18% or 7 schools to be up to this standard. 

In Kent, the movement from previous inspections is still positive with eight schools having improved on their previous assessment, although six have declined. However, the overall pattern of outcomes, very similar to last year's full figures is still well below the national average and so must cause further concern about its position in the national table, to be published shortly. No outstanding schools since September, and only three last year is bad enough, but the two further OFSTED failures at Shoreham Village Primary (an absolute shocker) and Pilgrim's Way Primary in Canterbury, is simply not good enough. More worrying still, Kent has a robust programme to try and improve standards which I have applauded in the past, but these figures show it is simply not working. 

Apart from overall results, the most worrying feature in Kent is the failure to offer proper support to schools in difficulty, as revealed by follow-up monitoring inspections: Knockhall Community School in Dartford, currently in Special Measures - Local Authority has demonstrated it understands need for urgent action, but has not translated this into results (solution - the school is to be taken over by Lilac Sky Academy Trust!); Istead Rise Primary School, Gravesham, Special Measures - Local Authority statement of action was failed on the first Monitoring Inspection but has now handed most responsibility to Meopham Community Academy, which has seen the second Monitoring Inspection also fail; Raynehurst Primary, also Gravesham - failed first Monitoring Inspection, now run by Whitehall Primary School but failed second Monitoring Inspection - "The local authority, however, has not been effective in ensuring that a reasonable rate of progress has been made since the inspection in March 2013" - The school is now to be taken over by REAch2 Academy Trust; South Avenue Junior School, Sittingbourne - Failed second Monitoring Inspection "There has been an appropriate range of external support but its impact on improving teaching and learning so that pupils achieve well has been variable. Time lost when the school was first judged to require special measures has yet to be made up" - the school is now to combine with South Avenue Infants and become part of the Fulston Manor Academies Trust. Two schools Requiring Improvement were also given poor Monitoring Inspection Reports: St Michael's CofE, Tenterden, and Eythorne Elvington, Dover. What is clear is that KCC is shedding its poorly performing schools  to the Academy movement, so will no longer have responsibility for them. 


Chatham Grammar School for Boys has seen a monitoring inspection since being placed in Special Measures in June. It is clearly undergoing a dramatic transformation, and I will shortly publish a separate article on this. Parents are now running a Facebook page which provides fascinating reading.

Dover Grammar School for Boys had a heavy fall from Outstanding to Requires Improvement, mainly based on a reported disappointing mathematics performance by students.

The Marlowe Academy, which managed at last to get out of Special Measures in July, was found to be taking effective action in improving standards further from the Requires Improvement category. However, there is still a long way to go, with the school having the highest vacancy rate in the county at 67%, with just 58 out of 180 places taken up in September. Continuing problems at the school were highlighted when Principal Cassie Ellins, an outstanding head in her previous school, appointed to Marlowe in September 2012, suddenly left the school earlier this month.

Maidstone Grammar School and St Gregory’s RC Comprehensive in Tunbridge Wells both had Outstanding OFSTEDs, with Maplesdon Noakes in Maidstone, being assessed good again.

The Archbishop’s School in Canterbury, a popular CofE school, has surprisingly been assessed as Requiring Improvement for the second consecutive time.  

Last modified on Monday, 06 January 2014 16:28

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