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Sunday, 30 September 2018 19:13

Kent & Medway Secondary School Ofsted Outcomes: 2017-18

You will find the corresponding Primary article here. Special Schools and PRUs to follow. 

No Kent or Medway secondary schools were found Outstanding in 2017-18. However, the 79% of Kent schools classified as Good by Ofsted compares well with the national figure of 68% Good or Outstanding up to March this year. In Medway 75% of schools were classified as Good.

Three schools were found Inadequate. I have previously reported on the recent history of Holmesdale School in Snodland as it plunged from Good to Special Measures in four years, but the tragic story continues, below. Royal Harbour Academy, like Holmesdale not an academy but one of the few secondary schools still the responsibility of KCC, is weighed down by multiple challenges and was found to Require Significant Improvement in July. The Medway UTC, just three years old was put into Special Measures, the Report and other factors adding up to a disgrace that should shame everyone concerned, although no doubt the governors carry on regardless of the damage they have done to children’s education and prospects.

You will find a profile for each Kent and Medway secondary school, including Ofsted outcomes, by following the links. All Ofsted Reports are available here. Further information on significant Ofsted decisions below....

Kent & Medway Secondary Ofsted: 2017 - 2018
  Outstanding Good
Inadequate Up Down
3 0 0  0 0
Grammar % 0% 100% 0%
Non-Selective  0  20 4  2 4 3
Non-Selective %  0% 77% 15%  8%  15% 12%
Grammar 0 2 0 0 0 0
Grammar % 0 100% 0% 0% 0 0
Non-Selective 0
1 1 1 1
Non-Selective % 0 71% 14% 14% 14% 14%
% Sep 17 - Mar 18  17% 51% 27% 8%     
 2016-17  5% 57% 25%  13%     

Note: Several of the schools identified below are in a state of limbo as they were rebuilt under PFI and, although having applied to become academies cannot change whilst there are financial issues blocking this.

RIC Masthead June 2018 1

Short Inspections
A school judged good at its most recent inspection will normally receive a one-day short inspection, approximately every 4 years, as long as the quality of education remains good. However, some good schools will automatically receive a 2-day full inspection if there are concerns about the school's progress. I have amalgamated the outcomes for Full and Short inspections  in this article. There is more on Short Inspections here
Kent Grammar
The three Kent grammar schools inspected, Chatham & Clarendon, Simon Langton Girls’, and Wilmington Boys’ were all awarded a Good Ofsted, as previously. Whilst a total of 25 out of the 32 Kent grammars have been graded Outstanding in their most recent Ofsted, this hides an interesting story with three of these schools, Dane Court, Skinners and Tonbridge Grammars not having been inspected since 2007. Three others have not been assessed for between seven and ten years, Dartford, Oakwood Park and Tunbridge Wells Girls. This is because many Outstanding schools missed re-inspection for up to six years, and then restarted counting after conversion to academies for up to another six years before an inspection was due. However, even this rule has now been relaxed and some of these schools are now exempt from re-inspection completely unless the Chief HMI or Secretary of State for Education has concerns about their performance. 
Kent Non-Selective Schools
20 of the 26 assessments were Good, at 77% again above the National level for Good or Outstanding for a number of years.
Four of these are improved from Requires Improvement. I have reported on Canterbury Academy previously. Knole Academy, Sevenoaks, fell to RI under its headteacher, the highest paid head in Kent, but has now recovered. The North School, Ashford (at present blocked from academisation by being a PFI school) and The Whitstable School (previously The Community College, Whitstable) were both Local Authority Schools, managed by Swale Academy Trust, although the Whitstable School became a Sponsored Academy last month.

Four schools are unchanged on Requires Improvement: Astor College, Dover (covered previously and still not improved); Aylesford School (now managed by Wrotham School as a sponsored academy, at present blocked from becoming an academy by being a PFI school); Hartsdown Academy, Thanet (covered recently);  and  New Line Learning Academy, Maidstone (being re-brokered to a new Academy Trust, following poor performance along with Cornwallis Academy).

I have reported on Holmesdale’s dreadful decline from Good to Special Measures in February, previously. This decline was overseen by support from the controversial Brook Learning Trust, which has now pulled out of that support, with the Local Authority retaining responsibility.  KCC continues to support the school this term, with Swale Academies Trust on the Interim Executive Board, presumably the plan being to take it on fully in due course. .   

However an Ofsted Monitoring Inspection in July reports further decline, a major embarrassment for KCC: ‘leaders and managers are not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures. Despite the headteacher’s clarity, honesty and commitment, overall the school’s progress since the previous inspection has been too slow. The primary reason for this is weak capacity in the leadership of the school at middle and senior leadership levels. In order to plug emerging gaps in leadership there have been successive changes to the areas for which leaders are responsible, and the headteacher has also taken on too many additional areas of responsibility. There are consequently omissions in leaders’ oversight of key areas. Weaknesses in capacity have also meant that some important first steps on the journey out of special measures have not been taken. Some new initiatives that had a promising start have now stalled’. The failed Governing Body was removed a month before the Inspection and replaced by an Interim Executive Body.

Royal Harbour Academy, not an academy, but a KCC school managed by the Coastal Academies Trust is, like Hartsdown Academy on a hiding to nothing. The school was created in 2015 by the amalgamation of the failed and closed, unlamented Marlowe Academy with its £30 million new buildings and the previously successful Ellington and Hereson School (itself an amalgamation of boys’ and girls’ schools). Like others its academisation is currently blocked by the PFI scandal affecting the Ellington site. Like Hartsdown Academy, it suffers from the pressure on places in Thanet with both schools being forced to accept large numbers of pupils who don’t wish to be there, along with a considerable proportion of transient children, refugees and others from abroad, many with poor English. The Report suggests there is too much acceptance of lower standards in spite of the valiant efforts of Coastal Academies Trust which manages the school, to improve expectations.

Medway Schools
Seven schools were inspected, out of the 18 Medway secondaries, of whom all but one are academies. Five were classified as Good: Chatham Grammar Girls; Greenacre Academy; Holcombe Grammar; Hundred of Hoo Academy; and Victory Academy.

The two Chatham grammar schools have both had a rocky path to this good outcome. Chatham Grammar School for Girls was originally given a Short Inspection but, because of problems was given a second shot when the Good outcome was confirmed. If you follow my link you will find a profile of the school that describes a litany of issues; financial, academic and failure to both attract and retain pupils. It is now under the management of non-selective Brompton Academy, the other school in the University of Kent Academy Trust, and with a new headteacher appears to have turned the corner.  

The academic outcomes for Holcombe Grammar no doubt led to its Good Ofsted and it may well be the case that the Inspectors were not aware of its appallingly chaotic management detailed in a number of articles on this site (follow the link both backward and forward in time). The school is now led by the head of non-selective) Victory Academy, another school in the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (see below).

Victory itself has had a chequered history under its previous existence as Bishop of Rochester Academy, but has now clearly turned the corner, although its previous reputation drags down numbers.

The Hundred of Hoo Academy has a glowing Inspection Report, at odds with my previous view, influenced by very high numbers reported to be leaving to become Home Educated. I originally requested these from Medway Council in April 2017 and was eventually informed there were 54 in the year 2015-16. I challenged Medway Council on this and after a more than a year of delay and denial, they were finally ordered by the Information Commissioner to re-examine the data and reply within 35 days. This after they had ignored his initial request. The deadline expired last Tuesday and, having dragged it out to the last possible moment, informed me at 4.16 p.m. that the correct number was 18! (The Council has recently missed the deadline for the 2017-18 figures, so has clearly learned nothing) What a disgrace.

Walderslade Girls School has slipped from good to Requires Improvement, with the headteacher departing.  It has now been taken over by Greenacre Academy, the neighbouring boys school with whom it already has close links including a combined Sixth Form. Greenacre itself had a strong Ofsted in May.

The big disaster and disgrace is Medway UTC, about which I have previously written extensively in an article describing the background to its first Inspection. This resulted in a colossal failure at Special Measures, the Report pulling no punches. Basically, everyone appears to have failed the pupils who made the decision to transfer in at 14+ from their previous schools, most no doubt lured by the promise of a high tech curriculum and training: Medway Council; Governors and Trustees representing local business and higher education; school leaders (the Principal left at Christmas before the debacle was confirmed); many of the staff, although it is difficult to know which to blame as there was a very high turnover including presumably good people who left in disgust. I recommend you read the comments at the foot of my article to get a flavour of the sense of let-down by those caught up in this debacle.

Last modified on Saturday, 01 June 2019 18:02


  • Comment Link Thursday, 04 October 2018 13:02 posted by Tim H

    Thanks for this. Peter, were you my mother's butcher boy on that enormous trade bicycle many years ago in Kennington? Presumably you received more training elsewhere. I bet you never thought you would become the scourge of KCC! PETER: Yes I was, and yes I did. No I didn't.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 04 October 2018 12:58 posted by Tim H

    What a great analysis, along with the Primary Report below. I look forward to reading the official and alternative KCC version, usually published around now and which traditionally ignores the issues you have exposed.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 03 October 2018 20:29 posted by Rachael, a despairing Medway primary parent

    Another powerful article Peter, revealing a great deal of research. One despairs about the Medway grammar schools. Sadly, your repeated exposes of misbehaviour appear not to dent their arrogance or incompetence.

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