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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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  • The Disgraceful Behaviour of the Governors of Fairview Primary School

    Update 9th April: I have included a section on Government advice for the appointment of new headteachers, below. 

    This article considers the appointment of a new Headteacher for Fairview Community Primary School, a process that is lasting for just three and a half weeks, from posting the advertisement to concluding the interviews at a school whose status in September is unknown. The only way this is not madness is if Medway Council and the Governing Body already know who they are going to appoint. Why would anyone else apply?

    In my previous article about Fairview a month ago, I reported on a letter from the Board, dated 24th February, that ‘Governors will now carry out a ‘period of reflection in which they will take this opportunity to respond to the most frequently raised themes highlighted, including Academic Standards, transparency and the question of why The Westbrook Trust with more regular communication’. 

    This regular communication amounts to a brief letter from the Chairman of Governors, dated the last day of term, informing parents that a permanent headteacher is to be appointed, without mentioning any of these promised themes. The job advertisement fails to mention the rather important point that the school is planning to academise with the Westbrook Trust and so the successful candidate could be removed if their face doesn’t fit. This is either gross incompetence or alternatively, with interviews set for just three days after the closing date for applications, the whole thing is a disgraceful fix! This article finishes with four important questions to which parents need to know the answers. 

    Written on Thursday, 08 April 2021 06:35 7 comments Read more...
  • Oversubscription & Vacancies: Kent Grammar Schools 2021

    The pattern of grammar school allocations reveals chickens coming home to roost – but never mind the children. I have regularly written since last June about the unfairness of the Kent selection procedure that would be created by the coronavirus effects on schools unless changes were made, and so it has proved. My previous article on the Kent Test demonstrated a built-in bias towards children in West Kent and girls as a result, with further discrimination against children attracting Pupil Premium, suggesting that children from ‘ordinary families’ would also suffer.

    Now, every West and North West Kent grammar is full, and all but one are oversubscribed with first choices, even though between them they have added on an extra  184 Year Seven places from last year. At the other end of the scale, there are 257 empty spaces in 13 East and Mid Kent schools, up from 123 in six schools in 2020.

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    For children attracting pupil premium, 10% of the girls were found selective by the 2020 Kent selection procedure, and 7% of the boys, in total 8.2%, a fall of 17% from the 2019 figure.

    There is an increase of 51 children from outside Kent to 466 in total, were offered places in Kent grammar schools, the main rises being at Gravesend, Maidstone, Maidstone Girls, Mayfield and Tunbridge Wells Boys, partly compensated by a sharp fall at Weald. 

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    Written on Friday, 19 March 2021 18:53 3 comments Read more...
  • Halling Primary Crisis: Latest Developments

    Update on even fresher and major developments below, most recently today, 2nd April: Job Description for EYFS Lead Teacher (they keep coming!)

    A comment on my previous article about Halling Primary begins: 

    Watching even more children leaving school today crying because even more staff are leaving (that the school haven’t told the parents about!) is genuinely heartbreaking.

     Meanwhile, the Chair of Trustees considers that ‘The atmosphere within the school is now one of great enthusiasm and determination'. A front-page article in the Medway Messenger on Thursday has stoked the fires featuring the same Chair claiming ‘staff not up to the challenge’. The Trust has called a meeting of Halling parents for next week, although this is primarily to introduce the new staff - should be interesting. At the meeting, the Trust will also discuss the adversarial and threatening Social Media Policy.

    Ex-members of staff have now lodged formal complaints about the shocking public attack on them, which appears to be an attempt to cover up the resignation of over three-quarters of the teaching staff mid-year. Those departing next month include the highly respected Deputy Headteacher and Head of Early Years, both leaving 'for personal reasons' with no job to go to at present, together with support staff. Several of the Teaching Assistants have chosen to leave in the next few days before the end of term. 

    All this is far away from the school’s highly publicised values of

    Compassion • Integrity • Thankfulness • Respect • Resilience

    Written on Thursday, 18 March 2021 20:28 7 comments Read more...
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    LAR Projection

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    Written on Saturday, 13 March 2021 04:58 1 comment Read more...
  • Leigh Academies Trust to take over (merge) the Brook Learning Trust

    Update 22 March: 

    Kent Secondary School Allocations
    for September 2021
      PAN Offers
    1st
    Choices
    LAA
    Ebbsfleet 150 132 58 47
    Hayesbrook 151 148 51 51
    High Weald 151 73 56 5

    PAN= Published Admission Number; LAA= Local Authority Allocation

     Plans have been announced for Leigh Academies Trust to merge with (take over) the struggling Brook Learning Trust. I have regularly looked at the failures of the three Brook schools for too many years: Ebbsfleet Academy; Hayesbrook Academy in Tonbridge; and High Weald Academy in Cranbrook. Although I have doubts about such large Trusts, the children attending these schools and those who will follow them would surely have a much better future under Leigh Academies Trust. 

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    Leigh Academy Trust (2)

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  • Medway Secondary School Allocations for September 2021: Initial Information and Advice

    This article is triggered by the Medway Council Press Release on secondary school Allocations, which as usual contains an absolute minimum of information.  In summary: Of the 3,431 Medway children offered places, more than 96 per cent have been awarded a place at one of their preferred secondary schools. 4,459 secondary school applications were processed, including 1,028 children from outside Medway.

    The major change in admission patterns this year is also referred to in the Press Release. This is the opening of the new eight form entry Leigh Academy Rainham for September, offering 240 places from 514 applicants, and well above its Planned Admission Number of 180, which will have a major impact on other schools situated in the eastern part of Medway, and explored below.  

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    Written on Sunday, 07 March 2021 15:45 Be the first to comment! Read more...