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News and Comments - Kent Independent Education Advice

News and Comments

The latest news posted by Peter J Read; just click on a news item below to read it in full. Feel free to subscribe to the news via the email link to the right or the RSS Feed at the bottom of the page. Please note that the over 800 regular subscribers who receive each news item directly are not included in the number of readers recorded below the item, who have gone beyond the headlines to look at the full article.  If you have a view on any item posted, please leave a comment.

Please feel free to suggest items of news, or areas where comment is needed to: peter@kentadvice.co.uk.

 
News items below appear below as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.
The Kent Catholic Schools Partnership, an Academy Trust which runs 19 Roman Catholic primary schools, has instructed all these schools not to provide facilities for their children to sit the Kent Test in their own school. This means that those children will be disadvantaged by not taking the Test in familiar surroundings like other Kent children, and will have to travel to another venue arranged by KCC which could be miles away from their homes. This move to sectarianism would appear to be just bloody-minded to many. For the Catholic Church as a whole is clearly not opposed to academic selection, supporting three Catholic grammar schools in other parts of the country and providing many private Catholic academically selective schools for those Catholics and others who are wealthy enough to pay, both in Kent and elsewhere in the country. These two categories are also operating in clear contradiction of ‘the church’s social teachings’ as set out  below.
 
 KCSP Logo
However, as the following analysis shows, the only children this decision will actually affect are those frightened off from taking the test because of social disadvantage or lacking the confidence to take on the church, or else who fail the Kent Test solely because they have been disadvantaged by taking it in unfamiliar surroundings. How proud the Catholic Church must be.

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Thursday, 14 November 2019 05:26

Kent and Medway School Exclusions 2018-19

 'Teacher capacity and skill is (sic) the best antidote there is to exclusion of students'.
Folkestone Academy
 The same five secondary schools feature in the top seven fixed term excluders in every one of the last three years. Folkestone Academy, Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey and Hartsdown Academy are high profile schools in trouble and entirely predictable. Between them they account for nearly a quarter of all secondary exclusions in Kent this year. Astor College, Dover, has also struggled, the fifth being John Wallis CofE Academy, Ashford. For primary schools there are just two schools to feature over this period, Richmond Academy and Martello Primary. You will find full lists and more details of the top excluding schools below.
 
There were just 43 permanent exclusions in Kent in 2018-19, spread across 31 schools, down again from last year’s record low. In Medway there were 36.  The only school expelling five or more students last year was Robert Napier in Gillingham, which features annually in this very short list, with ten pupils thrown out in 2018-19 (also fifth in Kent and Medway for fixed term exclusions).
 
Kent has had a very low rate of permanent exclusions since 2012-13, fifth lowest in England last year, with Medway consistently above the national average over the same period. Kent has also been below the national average for fixed term exclusions 2016-18, with Medway well above since at least 2009-10; see below. For Kent secondary schools, fixed term exclusions are up by 11% since the year before, whereas for primary schools it has fallen by 5%. 

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Headlines:
The central headline of the year's Primary School Ofsted outcomes is that academies are considerably outperforming Local Authority schools,showing much stronger improvement. 
 
Overall, Kent and Medway schools inspected by Ofsted outperformed last year’s national level of 83% Good or Outstanding, aided by a strong performance from academies.
In Kent 19 of the 94 schools inspected have improved their grading, against just six that have declined; whilst in Medway five of the 22 have improved, and none deteriorated, the best performance for years.
19 of 24 schools that improved their category were academies, most having converted since their previous inspection.
 
This article focuses on Ofsted reports since March when I  published a half year report, since when there are two new Outstanding schools in addition to those listed in the previous article: Hawkinge Primary in Folkestone and Shatterlocks Infant in Dover (academy) schools.
Hawkinge 2      Shatterlocks
 
Five schools have improved their performance by two levels from Special Measures to Good after academisation: Barming, Maidstone; Brenzett CofE, Romney Marsh; St Edward’s Catholic, Isle of Sheppey; St Nicholas CofE, New Romney; Westgate, Dartford.
 
I look below at all the key outcomes across Kent and Medway. 

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Saturday, 02 November 2019 09:50

Medway Review 2019 and the Medway Test.

I have now received more data relating to the Medway Test with its pass level of an aggregation of 495 marks across the three tests, following on from my initial article here.

It is clear that the Review process has once again failed Medway children with a total of 0.43% of children having Reviews upheld, against a target of 2.0% of the cohort. As a result, 45 children missed out  of being found of grammar school ability this year because of failure by the Medway process. The rules then state that such children cannot be considered at appeal unless they can show the process to be flawed! Of the 15 successful reviews for Medway children out of 147 submitted, 11 were from girls, over half of these being born in the first quarter of the year. Some might argue that the underlying reason for the very low success rate at Review is poor work produced by Medway primary schools, although it could of course be simply the annual  failure of Review Panels to follow the procedure! 

22.2% of boys and 24.1 % of girls in Year Six of Medway schools passed the Medway Test, meeting the overall target of 23.0%. Whilst this confirms the annual bias in favour of girls as demonstrated below, the gap is slightly lower since the introduction of the CEM selection Test in 2017. The Council has attempted to save money by banning late testing since 2018, which is unlawful as explained here, Year Six children moving into Medway late are therfore denied the opportunity to go to grammar school. 

There were 921 Out of County (OOC) successes in the Medway Test. Nearly half of these came from Kent. Many will be looking for places at Holcombe and Chatham Girls grammar schools as second or lower choices to schools nearer their homes. Last year just 246 OOCs were allocated Medway places out of 844 grammar qualified, many of whom would have subsequently dropped out after gaining more suitable places nearer home. 


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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.


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Wednesday, 23 October 2019 04:18

Medway Provisional GCSE Outcomes for 2019

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 with just one school Well Below Average (Robert Napier), 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 on 32.3, 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.


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Saturday, 19 October 2019 07:47

Kent Provisional GCSE Outcomes 2019

Update: You will find the KCC version here, although I make it 46 Kent schools with at least the National Average for Progress 8, whilst KCC has 44.  

GCSE Results for Kent published last week 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. The table is finalised in January, allowing for various adjustments. 

Girls’ schools make a clean sweep the top eight places in the Progress 8 table, the government’s key measure of performance, with Bennett Memorial Diocesan and seven grammar schools. 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 the previously struggling Cornwallis Academy. 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.


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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 2284, 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).


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