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Peter Read

Note: This is an update to a previous article, now deleted

At long last it looks as if the second part of the Sevenoaks grammar school annexe buildings will be built and occupied as originally planned, in response to a growing shortage of grammar school places in West Kent. A consultation document on the development of a separate annexe has now been published, which appears to provide a fairly straightforward progress to completion in 2021 for 90 boys in Year Seven, following approval of the girls’ annexe three years ago.

This will be an important increase in selective education places for West Kent. At present, grammar school qualified boys from the north of the District, who are not eligible for the super selective Judd and Skinners schools, have to travel up to 22 miles to TWGSB which is bursting at the seams as it keeps having to expand to meet local need.

Additional grammar school places are certainly needed to meet the increasing number of Kent children being assessed as selective due to a growing population. There is a forecast deficit of 242 places for boys and girls jointly by 2022-23 (see below). I have explored the non selective place issues several times previously, for example here.

Friday, 07 February 2020 14:18

Medway Final GCSE Outcomes for 2019

Final GCSE Results for Medway schools published last week confirm the provisional results released in November. This article is a minor revision of the November original as I have found no significant variations in outcome. The key measure of GCSE Performance is Progress 8 (full table here) .Under this measure Medway is slightly above the National Average of -0.03; at +0.03. There was just one school, Robert Napier, Well Below Average  although the results of Medway UTC (Well Below Average in 2018) have been suppressed for unexplained reasons. Attainment 8 (full table here) has Medway exactly the same as the National score of 46.5 with Robert Napier firmly at the foot of the table, although again Medway UTC has results suppressed and is now the Waterfront UTC.

Overall, positions in the full performance tables below are very similar to 2018, with for grammar schools, Rochester being at the head and Holcombe the foot of both tables again. Rainham School for Girls and Thomas Aveling have topped both tables for non-selective schools each year . 

You will find performance tables including outcomes of the English Baccalaureate and  the proportion of pupils gaining Level Five or better in English and maths together with analysis below.

Friday, 07 February 2020 17:47

Kent Final GCSE Outcomes 2019

Final GCSE Results for Kent published last week confirm the provisional results released in November. This article is a minor revision of the November original as I have found very few variations in outcome. The results show that Kent schools were below the National Average of -0.03 in the governments key measure Progress 8 at -0.11. However, they were ahead in Attainment 8 at 47.2 against the national figure of 46.6, as explained below. 

Girls’ grammar schools make a clean sweep the top seven places in the Progress 8 table, the government’s key measure of performance. Highworth shows the greatest consistency being second for the past two years.

highworth Grammar      Bennett Memorial 3

 

Bennett continues to dominate both non-selective tables, ahead of 28 grammar schools in Progress 8, followed as usual by St Simon Stock, and in the past three years Meopham. The only new non-selective school arriving in the list of best performers is Cornwallis Academy which continues to struggle to attract applications.  Biggest turnaround is by Holmesdale (see below).

Borden Grammar is by some way the lowest performing grammar school at Progress 8, being Below Average, and also at the foot of the Attainment 8 table. Worryingly, there are 20 non-selective schools Well Below Average and below the government’s Floor Level of -0.50, up from 15 in 2018. At the foot of both tables comes Hartsdown Academy, lowest performing Attainment 8 and fourth lowest school at Progress 8 in the country. The 20 schools below Floor Level include many regularly low performers, but also now: Thamesview; Archbishops; Fulston Manor; Hayesbrook; Hugh Christie; and St Augustines. 

Who could not have got it more wrong when he said on his school website: 'We are celebrating our best ever year for results at GCSE in Year 11''? Answer below. 

You will find performance tables and further information and analysis below.

Thursday, 17 October 2019 06:00

Kent Test 2019; Initial Results and Comment

You will find a more detailed analysis of the Kent Test for entry in 2020, here

Kent Test results have been published with the pass mark somewhat higher than last year. This is no reflection on the difficulty of the Test as the pass marks will have been set as always to identify 21% of Kent children to be automatically selected. This year an automatic pass has been awarded to candidates scoring 110 on each of the three sections - English, mathematics, and reasoning – along with an aggregate score across the three sections of at least 330. Further details will follow as I receive them, but you will find for reference a full analysis of the 2018 Kent Test here. An additional number of children will have been found to be of grammar school standard through what is called the Headteacher Assessment, targeted to be 5% of the total cohort. You will find full details of the whole Kent Selection process here. Overall, these two processes last year yielded passes for 25.2% of Kent children in the age cohort.

Although there is an overall fall in then number of children taking the Kent Test, this will certainly be down to a sharp fall in Out of County (OOC) candidates. For, whilst there is a rise of exactly 300 in the number of Kent children being assessed as suitable for grammar school for 2020 over last year, there has been a fall in the number of  OOC children passing for the first time in many years . I explore this further below, along with sections on Sources of Information and Advice on admissions and appeals, Out of County Children, and Pressure PointsIn a second article below, I look at implications of the change of pass mark, especially any impact on super selective schools.  

The scores for achieving success in the Kent Test have risen substantially this year, the biggest shift since the new Test was introduced in 2014.
To be awarded an automatic pass, candidates will have had to have achieved a score of 110 on each of the three sections - English, mathematics, and reasoning – along with an aggregate score across the three sections of  the Test. The change of scores will make NO difference to the number of children passing, as the pass mark is set to achieve a target of  awarding 21% of children an automatic place and there will be no difference this year, as I will be able to confirm later when further details are available.
 
For children applying to those schools that select some or all of their pupils by high scores, the effect of the change is unpredictable (so please don’t ask) although I explore this further below.
Wednesday, 09 October 2019 12:34

Medway Test 2019: Initial results and analysis

Note: This article contains important advice which may assist those considering requesting a Review. You will find a more detailed analysis of Medway Test outcomes and the Review process here.  The parallel Kent Test article is here

The pass mark for the Medway Test for 2020 admission is an aggregate score of 490, selecting a total of 23% of Medway children, according to target. You will find an information article on Review and Appeal here. Data for individual Medway schools, including oversubscription levels and appeal outcomes are published here.

Whilst 808 Medway pupils passed the test, 35 more than in 2018, the number of out of county children (OOC) passing has continued its inexorable rise to 980. There will be far fewer girls' places available for OOCs at Rochester Grammar as explained below, but an overall surplus for local girls and probably OOCs across the area. By contrast the intense pressure on places for boys in Medway grammar schools is increasing because of the continued machinations of Holcombe Grammar, as explained below, with just one successful appeal out of 53 in 2019 as the school attempts to raise its academic entry profile by chasing higher performing London boys instead of those from Medway. The farce of the Review process will probably continue, with 2018 seeing 0.12% of the Medway cohort or just 4 out of the 202 applications for Review successful, with none from outside Medway or at private schools, against a target of 2%.  Of course this could change for 2019!   

Shockingly, Medway Council introduced a ban on late Testing last year when it was unlawful. Therefore, children moving into the area who miss the admission deadline cannot qualify for a grammar school place. 

This article looks at Year Seven and primary school admission appeals in Kent and Medway, conducted by Kent County Council, Medway Council and a number of private providers. There is a sharp rise in the number of secondary school appeals from the 2018 figures, with grammar school numbers rising from 2027 to 2258, and non-selective appeals from 678 to 895. Anecdotally, there is also a sharp rise in the number of secondary appeals in year and taking place outside the normal dates.

The headline statistic for the second year running is for Holcombe Grammar, a school that once saw a decent success rate as it recognised academic potential in local Chatham boys, but oversaw a shambles in the appeals of 2018, and now had just one appeal upheld in 2019 out of 53 heard.

As usual, there is no obvious pattern amongst non-selective schools, although I look at outcomes in each District below. The four Dartford grammars had just 18 successful appeals between them, out of 426, with Dartford Girls for the second time in three years having none. Dane Court and Dartford Grammars had the most appeals heard, at 130 each. The highest success rates at  grammar school appeals in 2019 are led this year by Highsted at 86% of appeals upheld, followed by Chatham Girls at 81%; Simon Langton Girls at 70%, and Maidstone Girls Grammar at 66%. The rise in successful Chatham Grammar Appeals has seen the overall Medway grammar pass rate to 29% to match the Kent grammar pass rate.  

 Further details below, including primary appeals heard by Local Authority Panels. You will find appeal panel data (along with other information) for each secondary school in Kent and Medway here (currently being updated; please let me know if you need the information for a particular school).

 New Article on Governance here
 
Further Update: Folkestone Academy couldn't wait to put Seamus Murphy in charge of Folkestone Academy until January, as announced, below. The Trust website states he is already Executive Principal (beginning of November).
Updates: A piece of good news for Turner Schools at last with Ofsted finding Morehall Primary School Good. This is countered by the two Turner primary schools having the highest percentage vacancies in Kent (67% for Martello, 73% for Morehall). However, in spite of a temporary article in September reporting excellent progress in GCSE performance at Folkestone Academy, this has not materialised, but the school has gone backwards since Turner Schools took over.  
Wesley Carroll, the fourth Principal of Folkestone Academy since it was taken over by Turner Schools in May 2017 is to stand down in January, reportedly for family reasons, having been appointed a year ago after extensive advertising to find an Executive Principal for the school failed to find a suitable candidate. He was previously Vice Principal for just over a year, a very limited senior experience for the post and will revert to this title where he will focus on the Year 11 GCSE group (see below), presumably because there is no one else capable of this middle management task. The 2019 staff list on the school website, possibly in preparation for this shows him as Co-Principal, but there is no mention of who he is ‘co’ with!
TurnerSchools
He will be succeeded by Seamus Murphy, appointed six months ago as Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Turner Schools, with his salary paid for by the Department for Education for what appear to be invalid reasons. His initial appointment was announced as being designed to allow the CEO, Dr Jo Saxton, to concentrate on curriculum matters surely a position well away from the strategic role her title demands, although reports suggest she still keeps a tight control of events. What happens next to fill his role, or was it always unnecessary and just for short term expediency in the first place?
 
Meanwhile, Professor Lygo, billed as one of the founders of the Turner Trust and Chairman of Directors left the Trust suddenly in the summer, along with two other Directors, without any public acknowledgement or mention of their contribution to the Trust, after an emergency meeting of the Board of Directors, see below. 
Tuesday, 01 October 2019 17:58

2019 Kent Secondary Allocations: Update

Back in March, I was unable to report on the levels of oversubscription of first choices at Kent secondary schools because of KCC's decision not to allow small numbers through the system, but produced initial reports for Non-Selective and Grammar schools setting out partial data and views. I now have fuller information, although the same issue may mean there are small discrepancies. There was no problem with vacancy data.

I have considerably updated the two articles which have so far been read by 24,567 browsers, incorporating fresh material and comment, including many 2019 appeal outcomes. I am now able to publish lists of the most oversubscribed grammar and non-selective schools in Kent, the vacancy lists being unchanged.

You will find lists of the 15 Kent non-selective schools turning away more than 50 first choices, and the 14 grammars with more than 25 disappointed first choices in comprehensive articles via the links.

69% of the 18 Kent secondary schools inspected by Ofsted in 2018-19 were assessed as Good or Outstanding. Once again this was better overall than the national average of the previous year which was 67% in 2017-18. The Kent schools were also well up on the national figure of 62% from September- March in 2018-19 (latest figures available). The two Medway schools inspected improved from Requires Improvement (RI) to Good. The 16 Kent non-selective schools were also above the national average overall for Good or Outstanding schools inspected in September to March this year, at 65% equalling the overall national figure in 2017-18.

Meopham 2

You will find fuller data and a list of the Kent and Medway secondary Ofsted Inspections below. There was just one Outstanding secondary Ofsted, with Meopham School having risen from the depths of Inadequate in 2012. The Towers School has also improved, from RI to Good. Four schools dropped in standard including the two grammars inspected, with The Malling School being looked at in more detail below.  I also look at the notorious Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey, RI,  which appears fortunate not to have been found Inadequate.

In Medway there were just two inspections,  St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive School and The Robert Napier School, with both seeing welcome improvements to Good from RI. I have rightly been very critical of St John Fisher in the past, but it appears to have now turned a corner as explained below.

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