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Saturday, 14 October 2017 18:11

Provisional GCSE Results for Kent 2017

Update on Simon Langton  Boys below

Medway Outcomes here

This is the second year of the new GCSE assessments for measuring schools performance, Progress 8 and Attainment 8, which replace the long established 5 A*-C GCSE league table including English and maths. Both these are measured by an arcane formula combining results in eight curriculum subjects to produce numbers whose meaning and spread is very difficult to comprehend, but enable schools to be placed in an order. 

The key measure is Progress 8 (full table here) which looks at progress from the end of primary school to the end of Year 11, comparing pupils to others nationally, who begin from the same starting point, and is rightly given priority in measuring performance.  Under this measure, Kent is slightly below the National Average of -0.03, at -0.11.

Meopham 2

Attainment 8 (full table here) simply measures what it says, with Kent exactly equalling the National score of 46 ranked 60th out of all Local Authorities, although there is a variety of other statistics provided to choose from to suit your case. Both measures have had their methodology changed to suit government priorities and the new grading system for English and maths. As a result, numbers are not directly comparable.  

Headlines: the Grammar School progress table is no longer the sole preserve of West Kent and super-selectives with four girls' schools  invading the top eight. Highworth, Invicta, Folkestone Girls' and Maidstone Girls have joined Tonbridge, TWGGS, and Dartford Girls', leaving Dartford as the only boys school. Both Oakwood Park and Chatham and Clarendon come below the national average, along with one provisional result for a school which failed for technical reasons, as explained below.   

Top non-selective school is Bennett Memorial, one of six church schools in the top ten, the top three ever present also including St Simon Stock and St Gregory's. All these three are wholly selective on religious grounds, and at the top also in attainment. For the second consecutive year there are remarkable performances by Meopham School and Orchards Academy, neither of which have the built in advantages of other top performers. As last year eight schools were below the government floor level with well-below average progress  facing government intervention, five the same as last year. 

Five of the top six grammar schools on attainment are unsurprisingly super-selective in West and North West Kent - along with Tunbridge Wells Girls'. These are the same schools as in 2016, balanced by five boys and one mixed grammar at the foot.  The Non-selective table is led by three church schools, Bennett Memorial leading the way above two grammar schools. Five non-selective schools are at the foot of both Progress and Attainment Tables.

Orchards 1

Further information below. including the performance of individual schools......

Please note that, as last year, these Provisional results are issued now to inform parents making secondary school choices. For the 2016 results, a number of schools' results were amended as students in certain categories were removed from the data. Few of these changes made a significant difference, so the current guidance is pretty reliable. 

Both Progress 8 and Attainment 8 are measured across eight subjects, English maths, 3 qualifications including sciences, computer science, history, geography and languages, and 3 other additional approved qualifications.  for Progress 8 there is a target national average score of 0, with most schools being between +1 and -1. The government floor standard, or expectation is to be above -0.5, in which case “the school may come under increased scrutiny and receive additional support”. and eight Kent secondary schools fail to meet this, including Simon Langton Boys. There are further details of the outcomes below.  

Progress 8
Grammar Schools
I am not sure that in Kent, with the grammar schools dominating the top of the table, this proves they necessarily offer better teaching; rather, there is a strong element of – ‘brighter pupils can be stretched further’. Whereas last year, all but one of the top performers were super-selective or West Kent grammar schools, with second highest rated school by this measure being Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar (not super-selective). The next  five grammars include three more girls' schools: Weald of Kent; Simon Langton Girls*; and Wilmington Girls*, a total of ten out of thirteen.  
There appears to be a wholly artificial controversy being hatched about Cranbrook and Skinners' schools which both put a form of students in for the maths GCSE a year early. As a result, these results are discounted in the GCSE tables so, both schools are penalised in the Progress league table. This is simply a reminder that aberrations need to be looked at for an explanation, which is wholly forthcoming in this case as well as Simon Langton Boys (see below). End of non-issue!
Grammar School Progress 8 Scores for 2017
Highest Lowest
School Score School Score
All Well Above Average Well Below Average 
and below Floor Level of -0.5
Tonbridge* 0.91 Simon Langton Boys


Tunbridge Wells Girls 0.9 Below Average
Dartford 0.79 Oakwood Park -0.24
Highworth 0.76 Chatham & Clarendon  -0.22
Invicta* 0.74 Average
Dartford Girls  0.68 Dover Boys -0.03
Folkestone Girls* 0.67 Borden 0.02
Maidstone Girls* 0.58 Sir Roger Manwood's  0.05
However, the pressure to achieve results comes at a price and the six starred schools are amongst those with highest net leaving rates at the end of Year Eleven, headed up by the mixed Barton Court losing 30 pupils. Most grammar schools provide opportunities for other students by a net recruitment into Year 12. With the other five all being girls' schools there is no doubt that some of these children will be casualties of the pressure to achieve highest grades. For Simon Langton Boys, both the Progress and Attainment Grades are exceptionally low. This is because Simon Langton boys take the iGCSE in English, probably because they regard it as having a more appropriate curriculum than GCSE. Unfortunately, this is not consistent with the set down authorised subjects, so no boys are classified as having an English Grade, as can be seen from the table.  
Non-Selective Schools
The highest performing non-selective schools are Bennett Memorial, third and Meopham School, tenth in the table of all schools including grammars, with a better result than twenty four grammar schools. Meopham and Orchards Academy, Swanley both in the list for two consecutive years, and with no obvious advantages,  clearly stand out as schools with good teaching and learning. Seven of the top ten were church schools. 

At the foot of the table, are seven non-selectives who are below the government floor standard and must be concerned at their performance which may well reflect on teaching and learning. These will be picked up by OFSTED on their next Inspection which will be brought forward, using this measure as a new key standard. Five have been here for both years of the new scheme: Hartsdown; Royal Harbour; Aylesford; Holmesdale and Spires, all of which apart from Holmesdale also occupying places at the foot of the Attainment table.   Of the 'well below average' schools, Hartsdown in Thanet, was featured in my Tough Love Academies article, along with Oasis Academy, Isle of Sheppey, both serving areas with high levels of social deprivation. Royal Harbour Academy is also based in Thanet along with Hartsdown. Aylesford  and Holmesdale  were both oversubscribed a few years a go, but have been in rapid decline and the most recent headteachers have departed. Aylesford is now to become an Academy sponsored by Wrotham School. Spires Academy has struggled since long before it became an academy, having no strong catchment in the small community of Sturry, near Canterbury, had a disastrous period being run by the previous Headteacher of controversial Simon Langton Girls Grammar, who has now resigned and is now to become part of the E21C (Education for the 21st Century) Academy Trust in Bromley. Astor College in Dover has been declining for some years, with poor GCSE performances, culminating in a  Warning  about unacceptable standards from the Department for Education last year, along with Spires Academy.   

Non-Selective Progress 8 Scores for 2017
Highest   Lowest
School Score School Score
Well Above Average
Well Below Average and
below Floor Level of -0.5
Bennett Memorial  0.79  Hartsdown -1.52
Meopham  0.58 Royal Harbour Academy  -1.2
St Simon Stock Catholic


Aylesford -1.08
Above Average Holmesdale -0.67
St Gregory's Catholic 0.42 Dover Christ Church -0.58
 Average Astor College -0.54
Orchards Academy 0.2 Spires Academy -0.53
St Anselm's Catholic 0.18 Below Average
 St John's Catholic 0.13  Cornwallis Academy   -0.5
Skinners Kent Academy 0.11  Leigh  Academy -0.47
Westlands School 0.1 Oasis Isle of Sheppey -0.45
John Wallis CofE 0.09 Towers School -0.45
Attainment 8
Here, scores come out as looking somewhat like a GCSE league table, but flattened at the top, with the score of 40 looking very similar in terms of the number of schools failing to reach it, the same figure as the now two year old Floor Level of 5 GCSE A-Cs.
Grammar Schools
Not surprisingly, here the grammar schools sweep the table completely, the top five being pretty predictable and the same as in 2017. Of special note is Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar, the only school of the five to admit most of their intake with no element of super-selection, also second in the Progress table. Skinners is the only one of these schools not also at the top of the Progress 8 table. Of the next eight highest performers, all bar Barton Court are girls' grammars.At the foot of both tables are Simon Langton Boys, Oakwood Park, Dover Boys and Borden,  all boys’ grammar schools, along with Chatham and Clarendon. As it is not clear what the numbers mean, all one can say is that the students of other grammar schools perform better by this measure.
Grammar School Attainment 8 Scores 2017
Highest Lowest
School Score School Score
Tonbridge 77.8  Simon Langton Boys 49.1
Judd  76.3  Oakwood Park 57.3
Dartford  73.6  Dover Boys 57.5
Tunbridge Wells Girls  72 Chatham & Clarendon 58 
 Skinners 71.4   Borden  60.5
Dartford Girls  69.7 Wilmington Boys 61.4
Non-Selective Schools
The highly selective Bennett Memorial Diocesan again tops the non-selective table, with two Catholic schools following, St Gregory's and St Simon Stock, the three along with Meopham School also at the top of the Progress table.
Apart from Duke of York's, a military sponsored  boarding school,  the other three highest performers were not in the list last year.  
 At the foot of the table apart from five of the six schools also at the bottom of the Progress 8 table, are Sittingbourne Community College, Oasis Isle of Sheppey and New Line learning. The first two of these have worked hard to improve standards, but, in spite of seeing large number of pupils leaving before GCSE, have clearly not seen any positive effect. New Line Learning, like several others on the list suffer from being amongst the only schools in their area with vacancies, and so pick up new arrivals in large numbers.  
Non-Selective Attainment 8 Scores 2017
Highest Lowest
School Score School Score
Bennett Memorial 57.3 Hartsdown 19.7
St Gregory's Catholic 49.7 Royal Harbour 25
St Simon Stock Catholic 49.6 Aylesford 31.5
Duke of York's 49.1 Spires Academy 31.6
Mascalls  45.5 Astor College 31.9
Wrotham  44.7 Sittingbourne Community 33.4
Meopham  44.5 Oasis Isle of Sheppey 33.8
Hillview 44 New Line Learning 34.5
Last modified on Friday, 19 October 2018 10:46


  • Comment Link Monday, 16 October 2017 20:26 posted by Mike

    Another excellent analysis, thank you. As you note, the greater progress made by pupils in grammar schools is a result, in part, of more able children making greater progress during key Stages 3 and 4. However, this was exacerbated in 2017 by the way the DFE “mapped” non-reformed GCSE subjects’ grades onto reformed GCSE-style numbers. This gave a higher score in 2017 for A and B grades than in 2016 and lower scores for D, E and F grades. Thus, in Attainment 8 and Progress 8 terms, there was more ‘credit’ for pupils making progress with high prior attainment than children with low prior attainment making the same amount of progress but attaining a lower grade. This is a bias that was acknowledged by the DFE but by no means trumpeted! By way of illustration that this is not an anti-grammar sentiment, the low SLBS score is a consequence of IGCSE English entries and not poor performance. Thank you again.PETER: Thanks for that Mike, It is good to get amplification from the inside. In the event I received the Simon Langton explanation independently (twice!) and have revised my text, accordingly.

  • Comment Link Monday, 16 October 2017 13:13 posted by Sue

    Peter, I note you mentioned that the starred schools have the highest net rate of children leaving at the end of Year 11. May I suggest that the high net rate for Tonbridge may much more likely be the fact that they do the IB in the 6th form, which naturally doesn't suit everyone's requirements. Certainly, I know from a Yr 11 TGS student that she did not have to get any 'official' grades to enter the 6th form, rather an interest in pursuing the IB, which of course is already a highly academic qualification. However, in contrast, I know of a Weald Yr 11 student, who along with several others, was treated despicably by the admissions dept when not getting the relevant grades for entry into the 6th form this year, something along the lines of a shoddy piece of paper handed out when they came to collect their GCSE results advising them that they would need to look elsewhere for their choice of 6th form. PETER: Tonbridge Sixth Form Requirement: "All applicants should have GCSE Grade 6 or above (or its equivalent) in English, Mathematics,
    at least one Science and one language where studied"

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