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Thursday, 14 December 2017 21:05

Kent & Medway Primary School Performance: 2017 Key Stage 2 Results

Key Stage Two school performance for 2017 tables were published on Thursday, with 65% of Kent pupils meeting the expected standard for the second year running, well above the national average which was 61%. Medway was once again below average at 58%.

Government’s key measure is progress from Key Stage One (end of Infant stage at age seven) through to Key Stage Two, in Reading Writing and Mathematics. The best overall progress performances in Kent were by: Kingsdown & Ringwould CofE, Dover, and Bredhurst CofE, 16.1; Temple Ewell CofE, Dover, 15.0; Castle Hill Community, with 15.4, and Christ Church CEP Academy, 14.7, both from Folkestone; Canterbury Road, Faversham, with 14.6. Apart from Bredhurst, every one of these schools is in East Kent, showing that Progress is not a function of West Kent prosperity. Just one Medway school reached and also surpassed these levels, Barnsole Primary, with three outstanding progress scores, to total 19.1 (explanation of numbers attempted below).

In Kent, five schools saw every pupil achieve the expected achievement standard set by government: Rodmersham, near Sittingbourne, for the second year running; Ethelbert Road, Faversham: and Temple Ewell CofE in Dover, all three schools amongst the highest performers for each of the previous two years, and all three again in East Kent; together with Seal CofE, and Crockham Hill CofE, both in Sevenoaks District.

Ethelbert Road    Rodmersham   Temple Ewell 2

In Medway, Barnsole was again the highest performer with 89% of pupils achieving the expected standard. 


Government also sets a Floor Target for all schools to reach, in either Progress in all of Reading, Writing and Maths, or Achievement. In Kent, 20 out of 414 schools failed to achieve either standard, with Richmond Academy, in Sheppey failing on all four counts. Medway had five schools out of 62 below the floor target.

I look more closely at all of the main categories below; you can see my 2016 report for  comparison hereThe article concludes with some advice to parents trying to select a primary school for their children.....

There are plenty of opportunities for many schools to claim a top position in one or more category, as shown in the following sections.

Progress levels are averaged across the country, the National Averages being adjusted to give a reading of 0.0. The large majority of schools will score between +5 and -5
Each child is measured in comparison with this average and schools are divided into bands, according to their average Progress Score in each subject.
The bands are: Well Above Average; Above Average; Average; Below Average; and Well Below Average.
Of the top six achievers, only Barnsole has all three progress grades as Well Above Average, whilst two others have two progress grades Well Above Average: Ethelbert Road and Temple Ewell CofE. Crockham Hill CofE and Rodmersham have two Average grades, suggesting they had high performing groups coming through from Key Stage One.

Just nine schools had all three Progress Grades assessed as Well Above Average. Three of these, Oasis Academy Skinner Street, Medway, St Mary of Charity, Faversham, and West Kingsdown CofE have all been in Special Measures in recent years. All are now academies,  and these Grades confirm they are well on the road to recovery, with such excellent progress.  Hernhill CofE, near Faversham, has been Awarded Kent's first Outstanding OFSTED Report this school year, up from Good in 2013, and Satisfactory (previous name for Requires Improvement) in 2011.  That is progress!

 Schools with all Progress Grades
Well Above Average
Castle Hill  5.3  4.7  5.4
Christ Church
CEP Academy
 4.9  5.3  4.4
St Mary of
Charity CofE
 5.7 3.6   4.5
Hernhill CofE 4.4 3.9 4.7
Hampton  4.3  3.4  4.1
West Kingsdown
3.4 3.0


Barnsole  7.4  4.6  7.1
Pilgrim  5.3  3.2  4.6
Oasis Skinner Street  6.2  3.7  4.4
Oaklands  5.0  4.9  4.3
Achievement and Expected Levels
Government has set a level that it expects all schools to reach, of 65% of children achieving the standardised score of 100, with 61% of pupils nationally actually reaching this: 65% in Kent and 58% in Medway.  

High performing Kent schools were: Rodmersham; Ethelbert Road; Temple Ewell CofE; Seal CofE; and Crockham Hill CofE all with 100%. They are followed by Fordcombe CofE, Sevenoaks; Our Lady’s Catholic, Dartford; Elham CofE; Canterbury; and Brookland CofE, Shepway. In Medway, after Barnsole with 89% (also top in 2016), come The Pilgrim and Oaklands with 86%, followed by St Thomas More Catholic with 82%, and English Martyrs Catholic with 79%.    

Lowest in Kent were: Tree Tops Academy, Maidstone 16%; Richmond Academy, Sheppey,  Goodnestone CofE, Canterbury, both 17%; and Charing CofE, Ashford, and Darenth Community, Dartford, with 21%.In Medway, the only school at this level is Elaine Primary with 20% of pupils achieving the expected standard.

% of pupils achieving at a higher standard
Around 5% of pupils are regarded as 'achieving at a higher standard' which is defined as at least a standardised score of 110 in both their reading and maths tests, with their teacher  also assessing them as ‘working at a greater depth within the expected standard’ in writing. 

In two schools, Amherst and Leigh, both in Sevenoaks, 34% of pupils reached this standard, coincidentally both having 86% of pupils on or above the expected standard. Both these figures are well up on the highest percentages in 2016. Next come: Whitstable and Seasalter Endowed CofE Junior (88%) and Wittersham CofE, Tenterden (85%) both on 31%; Selsted CofE, Folkestone (86%) and Ide Hill CofE, Sevenoaks (79%, top last year) both on 29%; and Gateway Primary Academy, Dartford (90%) and Chiddingstone CofE (79%) both on 28% high performing children. 55 Kent primaries had no high performers, sharply down from the 121 of 2016. 

In Medway, Barnsole Primary (89%) had 26%, and The Pilgrim (86%) had 24%. Seven schools had no high performers, again well down on 2016’s 19.

Floor Level
Schools that have a Performance of 65% OR Progress above all of: Reading -5; Writing -7 and Maths -5, are regarded as having reached Floor Level. If both are below this standard, the school can expect unspecified intervention by government, unless the miss is in writing only. 4% of schools nationally are in this category; however, the number in Kent has risen to 20 up from six in 2016, which at 4.8% is above the national average. Medway has seen the number of schools below Floor Level fall from five to three. Five of the Kent schools stand out, as below. 
     KS2 Floor Level 2017:
Lowest Five Schools
Reading Progress
Writing Progress
Maths Progress
Richmond Academy
17% -7.4
Tree Tops Primary Academy
16% -5.4  -0.5  -3
Charing CofE  21%  -6.6  -5.8  -3
 Parkside Community  25%  -1.7 -7   -6
 Knockhall Academy  29%  -2  -7.6  -5.3


Richmond Academy, Sheerness (bottom of the pile on nearly every count) and Knockhall Primary Academy, Dartford, are two primary schools both ruined by the appalling and now thankfully defunct Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust. It would be wrong to blame the new Trusts which have taken over the schools, Stour and Woodland Academy Trusts who have not had time to repair the damage (pity about the children whose education has been blighted by TSSAT). Incredibly, the owners of Lilac Sky are still allowed to promote themselves under the new company name of Education 101, in Kent and elsewhere.

The children of Tree Tops Academy, Maidstone, were failed by KCC over many years, then again by Academies Enterprise Trust. In 2014, I wrote an article: “Is this the worst school in the country, run by the worst academy chain?”, tracing back the dreadful history of the school since 2004. The poisoned chalice has now been taken over by Leigh Academy Trust, but only this week it one of 130 schools nationally in in a list of shame published by OFSTED of schools that have not shown any improvement since 2005. It was also below the floor standard in 2016, although OFSTED in May described a very different picture of the performance of pupils unfortunate enough to have to attend the school: “By the end of key stage 2, the majority of pupils, including those who are disadvantaged, catch up and achieve similarly to the national average in reading, writing and mathematics”. These are the same pupils whose school has now failed them to deliver the worst SAT achievement of any school in Kent. How can OFSTED have got it so wrong??

Charing CofE Primary School, Ashford, also failed to reach the Floor Standard in 2016, and has been through years of turmoil as one of the more unpopular schools in Kent: “Parents have been justifiably concerned about the frequent changes in leadership and exceptionally high turnover in staff. Many parents chose to withdraw their children from the school, which led to a dramatic fall in numbers and impacted negatively on already small cohorts of pupils in each class. The number of pupils who have joined or left the school over the past two years has been very high.”  This is taken from a glowing OFSTED Report of March 2017, which praises the turnaround taking place in the school under new leadership but again fails to notice the dreadful KS2 standard to be delivered for the second time just two months later. Progress Levels are particularly low. The school was taken over by the Aquila Academy Trust (Anglican Diocese of Canterbury) in July, so plenty of work to be done, although as a CofE Voluntary Aided school prior to conversion, will it be the same leadership that failed the children for so many years previously?

Parkside Community School, Canterbury had by some way the worst level of achievement in Kent in 2016, at 8% of pupils reaching the required standard, so this 25% could be regarded as showing progress, although actual progress levels are below floor standard in both Writing and Maths.  OFSTED in February 2017 which awarded the school ‘Requires Improvement’, stated: “The headteacher and deputy headteacher work well together and form a strong team to lead the school effectively. They have managed the considerable turbulence in staffing and the changing profile of the school well. Despite a decline in the school’s performance since the last inspection and a legacy of underachievement, pupils’ progress and the quality of teaching and learning are now improving”, but perhaps the outcome  is not really a surprise: “Pupils in key stage 2 are not making enough progress to catch up from their low starting points at the end of Year 2”. It is not clear why this school, failed by KCC for many years is not at  present being taken over by an Academy Trust, although Trusts are becoming increasingly picky about who they take on, and refusing to take on unpromising schools. Meanwhile numbers have fallen, just 50% of places taken up on allocation in April, and there are clearly parental concerns about possible closure, ‘Future of Parkside Letter’. Sadly, KCC promises have not always been delivered in the past. 

Coasting Schools
Then there are Coasting schools, defined as underperformance over three consecutive years defined as follows:
Coasting schools are those where over three years, pupils are thought to not be progressing as much as they should.
The definition is based on three years’ of data and the expected attainment level and average progress needed to be made by schools in 2017 is the same as in 2016.
For primary schools, the measures are
*In 2015, fewer than 85% of pupils achieved level 4 in English reading, English writing and mathematics and below the national median percentage of pupils achieved expected progress in all of English reading, English writing and mathematics, and
 * In 2016, fewer than 85% of pupils achieved the expected standard at the end of primary schools and average progress made by pupils was less than -2.5 in English reading, -2.5 in mathematics or -3.5 in English writing, and
* In 2017, fewer than 85% of pupils achieved the expected standard at the end of primary schools and average progress made by pupils was less than -2.5 in English reading, -2.5 in mathematics or -3.5 in English writing.
Schools must meet the criteria for three consecutive years to be deemed coasting. A coasting school is contacted by the Regional Schools Commissioner to consider its wider context, and decide whether additional support is needed.

I do not have the three year data to determine the Coasting schools. 

You will find a wide range of information and advice in my Primary School Admissions pages here, but this section attempts to look at the 2017 Key Stage 2 data.

Treat all the data outcomes with a certain amount of scepticism. Firstly, there were all the problems with changes to the Test assessment process which ranged over the whole of the school year 2016-17, and which have been widely publicised. Never forget that schools are under immense pressure to deliver the best possible Key Stage 2 results. The future of individual schools are sometimes at stake and this set of results will lead to some schools being taken over by others, by Multi-Academy Trusts, or even transferred between them. Some headteachers will lose their jobs. Other headteachers will yield under pressure and manipulate outcomes, for example one method can be to reduce Key Stage One outcomes to improve the progress rate through to Key Stage Two.

Government sets performance levels apparently somewhat arbitrarily as a tool to achieve its aims, so it is impossible to say if standards have improved or declined. What is certain is that the pressure to succeed is ever greater, so (1) look at other features of schools important to you than simply these tables. OFSTED performance, although strongly influenced by this data, the ethos of the school, the headteacher, do you see your child fitting in, etc., (2) High attainment performance is an indicator of high ability children in the school or else good progress or both.  Different families will choose different measures as a priority. (3) A sharp difference in progress assessments may be simply due to the teacher of mathematics (for example) having left, been ill or been on maternity leave with the school unable to make alternative arrangements. Find out if this problem still exists or has gone away (4) there appears currently an obsession in some areas over using the number of grammar school successes as a guide to a good school. Untrue and irrelevant. Firstly, this is six years of education away for the child entering a Reception class and many things can happen to change a school in that time. Secondly, success rates are likely to be related to the proportion of high ability children in the school. Thirdly, the tutoring factor which happens outside the school and applies to a high proportion of potential grammar school applicants is of considerable importance and is not reflected in these figures.

Primary school data is now far too complex for many parents to be able to compare schools and I suspect most will ignore it. However, if you put two schools together for comparison, accept all the caveats about poor data, look at what is important for you, if there are marked differences between the two it may prove helpful. However, bear in mind the enormous pressure on school places in many areas, and you may find you actually have no real choice at all! Sorry.

A recent OFSTED Report about a Kent school states:
This is an inadequate school. The school continues to undergo considerable turbulence. Pupils leave and join the school at irregular points. The turnover of staff is relentless. Leaders struggle to embed and sustain their carefully considered improvements. The tireless headteacher is frequently thwarted in her efforts to improve the school due to circumstances beyond her control.

Has this school failed, or have circumstances conspired to fail it?

Last modified on Tuesday, 10 March 2020 16:31

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