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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.

You will find a full explanation of the various performance measures, together with links to key articles on this site here

Kent GCSE Performance 2019

Note: A previous article looked at schools where there was possible off-rolling before GCSE. Five of these schools also appeared in the lowest GCSE performance tables below.

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

Grammar School Progress 8
Since 2018, Tonbridge Grammar has fallen out of the top schools in this table and Maidstone Girls Grammar and Folkestone School for Girls have arrived. 
Grammar School Progress 8 Scores for 2019
Highest Lowest
School Score School Score
All Well Above Average Below Average
Dartford Girls
Highworth 1.05 Average  
Tunbridge Wells Girls 0.97 Queen Elizabeth's -0.09
Weald of Kent 0.95 Chatham & Clarendon -0.08
Maidstone Girls 0.84 Dover Boys
Invicta 0.83 Tunbridge Wells Boys -0.02
Folkestone Girls 0.77 Dane Court 0.05

At the foot of the table, the embarrassment of Simon Langton Boys and Queen Elizabeth’s being Below Average have vanished, with Harvey, Maidstone Grammar and Simon Langton, having climbed out of the bottom six, to be replaced by Dane Court and Tunbridge Wells Boys.

 Non Selective Progress 8
 Two of the most interesting non-selective schools by performance are Meopham (third in 2013, but in Special Measures some years back) and Holmesdale (second lowest performance in 2018, and currently in Special Measures, still Below Average on -0.36, but in the top half of non-selective school). Both schools have been turned round by Swale Academies Trust following failure under Kent County Council.  Cornwallis Academy in Maidstone makes the most remarkable appearance in the list, having been fifth lowest performer in Kent just two years ago, in a table which otherwise looks little different from 2019.
Most of the highest performing schools remain at the top of the list, but are joined by Northfleet Girls and St Georges CofE, both in Gravesham which, along with Meopham and St John’s Catholic has four of its six schools amongst my list of 15 high performers. Tunbridge Wells has four of its five schools, Bennett, St Gregory’s Catholic and Skinners Kent Academy all also having an Ofsted Outstanding. Two of Kent’s three Free Schools, Wye Free School and Trinity School, Sevenoaks appear in the list although, along with moderately performing Hadlow Community College at -0.33 for Progress 8, none fit government’s preferred model of serving deprived areas.  John Wallis CofE Academy has slipped considerably after being the highest performing Kent N/S school in 2018. 
Non-Selective Progress 8 Scores for 2019
Highest   Lowest
School Score School Score
Well Above Average
Well Below Average and
below Floor Level of -0.5
Bennett Memorial  0.89  Hartsdown -1.45
St Simon Stock Catholic  0.65 Royal Harbour
Duke of York's
Leigh UTC
Above Average
Dover Christ Church
Meopham 0.47 Charles Dickens
St John's Catholic  0.40 Astor College
Wye (Free)
0.33 Thamesview -0.79
Skinners Kent Academy  0.26 Fulston Manor -0.73
Hayesbrook -0.71
Trinity (Free)
0.23   Goodwin
Hillview Girls 0.20 High Weald -0.69
Cornwallis Academy 0.17 Archbishops
St Gregory's Catholic 0.14 Hugh Christie   -0.66
Northfleet Girls
John Wallis 0.11 Folkestone -0.61
Valley Park 0.11 Spires  -0.60
St George's CofE, Gravesend 0.1 Oasis Sheppey -0.57
Also Well Below Average and below Floor Level: St Augustine Academy (-0.55); New Line Learning Academy (-0.54); and Canterbury Academy (-0.51).
At the foot of the table it is shocking to see the increase in the number of schools categorised as Well Below Average and below the government’s Floor Level of -0.50 to 20, up from 15 in 2018. Looking back to 2017, just three of these schools, Hartsdown, Royal Harbour and Astor College were in the six who fell into this category which included Cornwallis and Holmesdale, with Aylesford, Marsh Academy, Sandwich Technology and St Edmund’s Catholic also escaping since 2018, so it is not inevitable. The Brook Academy Trust (Hayesbrook and High Weald) and Coastal Academies Trust (Hartsdown and Royal Harbour) both run two of these schools, Coastal having had Charles Dickens School taken away from them. 

As I observed last year, all on the list must all be concerned at their performance which will itself hinder future recruitment of the quality staff and leaders needed to improve matters. This is exemplified by Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey, which in the year in question had just two thirds of its teachers with Qualified Teacher status.

I have written before about Hartsdown Academy, whose make up is described in the Ofsted Report of 2017 as: Pupils’ standards on entry to Hartsdown are well below the national average. When the present Year 7 pupils arrived, the great majority of them had reading ages below those typical for their age, and poor skills in mathematics. A very high proportion of pupils are vulnerable and/or disadvantaged. An above-average number of them leave and enter the school after Year 7. All these factors inhibit progress and, in the past, have had a negative impact on the school’s GCSE results. In recent years the proportion of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds has increased to at least one-third of Year 11 in 2017. Often, these pupils do not speak English on arrival or have not experienced formal education. With very low starting points and poor attendance, these pupils’ progress is well below that of other pupils’. My article on the Report also describes its controversial headteacher, whose leadership would apparently turn the school around. Self-evidently he is failing to do so, with the lowest Attainment 8 in the country, and fourth lowest Progress 8 (excluding UTCs which recruit into Year 10). Further articles (easily accessible through my search engine) look at the subsequent bottom of the table performance of the school. The fantasy world that Hartsdown Academy exists in can be judged by its comment on this year's disastrous GCSE performance. From the school website at the time of writing: 'Hartsdown Academy Year students have been celebrating success in their GCSEs today, as the school produced yet another year of improved results....Head of KS4, Ms Rigden, said “It has been a fantastic two years working with this group of dedicated and aspirational young people. The Year 11 staff and I are delighted to be able to celebrate with our students after another increase in GCSE results.” Headteacher Matt Tate adds, “This has been a fantastic year for Hartsdown Academy. We are celebrating our best ever year for results at GCSE in Year 11".  To remind Mr Tate, lowest Attainment in the country, and fourth lowest Progress 8!!!!!!!

 There must also be concern amongst the  high number of previously apparently sound schools that have joined the list this year: Thamesview; Archbishops; Fulston Manor; Hayesbrook; Hugh Christie; and St Augustine's.

I am utterly bemused by the appearance of Thamesview, Fulston Manor and St Augustine’s at the foot of this list. I wrote an article about The Archbishop’s School earlier this year examining its decline and only on the day of writing this  received an enquiry from a local resident expressing extreme unhappiness about behaviour  which I also glimpsed on a recent visit to Canterbury.  Boys in Tonbridge have no realistic alternative to Hayesbrook or Hugh Christie, both declining for some years. In 2015 Hayesbrook was the fourth best performing non-selective school in Kent. Last year, I wrote an article about the Brook Learning Trust which looked at the troubles which beset all its three schools, including Hayesbrook and High Weald. I summarised my view of this school as: 'A disaster area by every single measure above'.  Goodwin Academy was run into the ground by the appalling SchoolsCompany Trust, which has now been closed by government, and the school taken over by the Thinking Schools Academy Trust from Medway, so there may be improvement.

 Last year, government published a list of what it called Coasting Schools, defined as: 'A coasting School is one which has scored under -0.25 in Progress 8 for three consecutive years', and which attracted government support ,called 'intervention' although this measure has now been scrappedSchools which appear not to have got the message and have gone backwards are: Archbishop's and Hugh Christie; also Homewood which, although not in this table has recently been given Requires Improvement, by Ofsted, down from Good. Aylesford; Holmesdale; and The North all appear to have got the message and shown improvement, the last two having been driven by Swale Academies Trust 

Attainment 8
I can't get too excited about the attainment tables as, for both grammar and non-selective schools an important factor is the ability/performance of the pupils entering the school. 
 Grammar School Attainment 8
Not surprisingly, here the grammar schools sweep the table completely, five of the top seven being pretty predictable and the same as in 2018. Arriving are Highworth and Weald of Kent to replace Skinners and Invicta, giving a total of  five girl’s schools out of seven. Of special note is Highworth, the only school not in the West of the county. Neither of the top two, Judd and Tonbridge, whose pupils are amongst the highest scoring at Year Seven, make the Progress table.
Grammar School Attainment 8 Scores 2019
Highest Lowest
School Score School Score
Tonbridge 76.3 Borden 55.5
Judd  76.0 Dover Boys
Dartford Girls 75.3 Tunbridge Wells Boys 60.9
Dartford 74.3 Queen Elizabeth's 61.5 
Tunbridge Wells Girls 73.8  Oakwood Park 61.7
Highworth 73.1 Harvey 
Weald of Kent 72.5 Highsted 62.6
 Non-Selective Schools Attainment 8
Bennett Memorial Diocesan again tops the non-selective table, being highly selective on religious grounds. Nevertheless, and unsurprisingly, it comes below every grammar school in this table. The full list of high performers also appears in the Progress 8 table.
Non-Selective Attainment 8 Scores 2019
Highest Lowest
School Score School Score
Bennett Memorial 54.2 Hartsdown 20.5
Duke of York's 52.5 Royal Harbour
Trinity 51.2 Dover Christ Church 30.9
St Simon Stock Catholic 50.9 High Weald 32.0
Wye  49.6 Oasis Isle of Sheppey
Meopham   48.1 Leigh UTC
Hillview Girls  47.1 St Edmund's Catholic 33.1
Mascalls 45.5 Astor College
Valley Park 45.1 New Line Learning 33.5
Skinners Kent Academy
 There are no surprises at the foot of the table. All three Dover schools suffer because the Dover Tests for grammar school take out over a hundred higher performing children a year from them. 

English Baccalaureate

This is a third measure towards which the government was trying to nudge schools, by measuring the percentage of pupils taking GCSE in five specific subject areas: English, maths, a science, a language, and history or geography. It is designed to encourage schools towards more academic subjects and away from those thought intellectually easier, which government considers is an easy way to score, although Progress 8 and Attainment 8 already go some way towards that.

In 2017 no grammar schools had 95% or more of their pupils qualifying, for 2018 it rose to 12 schools as they respond to government pressure but has slipped back to eight for 2019 perhaps with the realisation it has limited intrinsic value. Highworth (100%);Dartford, Invicta, Norton Knatchbull  and Tonbridge (all 99%); Dover Girls, Gravesendand Highsted (all 98%). Valley Park and Wye School (85%) were again the highest participating non-selective schools. Highest Ebacc Average Point score were: Tonbridge Grammar; Dartford Grammar; Tunbridge Wells Girls; and Dartford Girls.

Three schools had no takers including, surprisingly, Leigh UTC with its technology bias, offering no pupil the opportunity to follow the government's preferred balanced curriculum.  

Grade 5 or Above in English and Maths GCSEs.

Another measure for identifying the high performing schools, each recorded individually on my site here. Again, 95% appears a convenient cut-off allowing ‘the usual suspects’: Tonbridge with 99% of the cohort; Judd and Dartford Girls (98%); Weald of Kent and Skinners (97%); Maidstone Girls, Dartford and Invicta (96%); Tunbridge Wells Girls, Highworth and Gravesend (95%). Lowest grammars were the two Sittingbourne schools: Borden (67%) and Highsted (73%).  

Meopham (57%) just pipped Bennett Memorial (56%) to first place amongst the non selective schools.  It is followed by Trinity (56%); Wye and Duke of York’s (50%). Lowest performer yet again is Hartsdown College (7%) – ‘We are delighted to have so many students gaining top grades’. Eighth lowest was Folkestone Academy with 13% who also led with a false boast, as they did in 2018, this time claiming that GCSE results were up by 8% more than the national average, whatever that means. They however had the sense, after this appeared for a few days to try and influence potential families, to remove it to avoid challenge.

Last modified on Wednesday, 10 March 2021 17:24


  • Comment Link Tuesday, 11 February 2020 19:08 posted by Angry from Sittingbourne

    There isn’t much information about my daughter’s school, Highsted Grammar School in the tables above but with the school rapidly going downhill, I expect that we’ll see it pop up on your ‘lowest’ side in the coming years. One department has lost half its teachers so far this year and they have been replaced by cover supervisors. What kind of education is that? This isn’t the school we were told about on the open day! PETER: It doesn't show up in the data, including the Individual Schools Section: However, I share your concerns from other comments I have received.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 09 February 2020 16:15 posted by Dora Stanford

    Really useful analysis - thank you for producing all this so comprehensively. It's interesting to see which schools maintain their position at the top and which continue to occupy the lowest placings. I wonder whether Hartsdown enters its pupils for the full range of subjects needed to qualify for Progress 8. If they modify the curriculum to suit the needs of their pupils, this might account for their consistently low position. PETER Hartsdown had 110 out of its 117 Year 11 pupils actually taking sufficient GCSEs to qualify for Progress 8. That is a healthy proportion. I am considering putting this figure in my individual school data somewhere. What do you think?

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