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Saturday, 14 December 2013 19:08

Kent & Medway OFSTED and Key Stage 2 Results 2013: Kent on Sunday 8 December 2014

This week, OFSTED has published its Annual Report on school performance, and the Department of Education has published its SAT Key Stage 2 results for schools across the country. For Kent and Medway, both brought dismal reading for parents. In the OFSTED league table, Medway ended up 151st out of 152 Local authorities.  Kent was 133rd, a little better, but nowhere near good enough.

In Key Stage 2 SAT results, Medway came seventh from bottom in the country, with 71% of pupils achieving Level 4 in Reading, Writing and Maths, a slight increase on 2012 when Medway came jjk bottom nationally. Kent continues its fairly consistent position of being just below the National Average.

These appalling results, especially for Medway, contrast sharply with the secondary experience.  Here, Medway came an impressive 27th in the national table of OFSTED outcomes and Kent 54th in 2012, both being success stories. At GCSE both Kent and Medway are well above the national average.

These pose the key question:.....

 

why is it that, in both Kent and Medway, primary school outcomes are so poor overall, compared with very good progress in our secondary schools? One key difference is that the primary schools are mainly controlled by the Local Authorities, whilst most secondary schools are academies. However, there are too many examples of good Local Authorities whose primary schools perform well, and too many high performing Kent controlled secondary schools for this to be the explanation. Controversially, it could be that the selective system in both Kent and Medway does provide better overall outcomes, but to me there is a third explanation that best meets the bill.

 

Quite simply, the quality of the Local Authority is responsible for the performance of the schools they run, and in the case of Medway it is producing arguably the worst outcomes in the country. None of this takes away from the many excellent headteachers and teachers who are running great primary schools. The bottom line is however, that last year there were just two Medway Outstanding schools, St Nicholas CofE Infant School and St Thomas More Catholic Primary school, and 12 Good schools out of the 35 inspected, a total of 40%, against a national average of 78%. Five schools failed their OFSTED, 14% against a national average of 2%.

In Key Stage 2, five Medway schools had fewer than half their pupils achieving Level 4s in Reading, Writing and Maths, the lowest, Saxon Way Primary, currently in Special Measures being 15th worst in the country, with just 23% of pupils achieving the Level 4 standard. In Kent, King’s Farm Primary in Gravesend achieved the same level (both these schools on track to become academies), but Tree Tops Academy in Maidstone, previously in Special Measures, was fourth worst in the country with just 15%. 

 I consider the main issues with Medway Council are exemplified by statements from the Cabinet Member for Education to the media this week. Firstly, there is a complete failure to accept how awful the position is with the same mantra that has been trotted out by the Authority for years (documented on my website www.kentadvice.co.uk) that: there is no problem, but in any case standards are improving. There are now three additional explanations. Firstly, it is the fault of the previous Labour government; secondly there was a complete change of management in the Children’s and Adult Services Department eighteen months ago which has already seen improvements in standards; and thirdly, today’s Key Stage 2 results for Medway would bear witness to that improvement (how wrong can you be)! My own assessment is there is a complete complacency and unwillingness to accept the reality - that Medway Council is failing and has failed for years to provide an acceptable standard of education for too many of the children who have the misfortune to live in Medway.

At least Kent is trying, and there are some signs of improvement after the Council accepted it was failing too many children two years ago and then came up with a robust plan to bring about improvement; however, 14 failed schools and the above figures show there is still a long way to go.

Both authorities are seeing increasing numbers of their weaker primary schools become academies, under pressure from government. Sadly, each conversion is a clear sign that the Local Council has failed to provide appropriate support to that school to stop it from failing. What an indictment! 

Last modified on Saturday, 18 January 2014 22:39

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