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Friday, 13 December 2019 10:21

Kent & Medway Primary School Performance: 2019 Key Stage 2 Results

 Updated 17th December
Key Stage Two school performance for 2019 tables were published on Friday, with 68% of Kent pupils meeting the expected standard for the second year running, comfortably above the national average which was 65%. Medway was once again below average, although this year narrowing the gap, at 64%. Congratulations to Stowting CofE Primary School, Ashford, which was the top school in all the three major categories explored below: Progress, Achievement, and Proportion of pupils achieving higher grades. Also of special note is Royal Rise Primary School in Tonbridge, its most recent Ofsted placing it in Special Measures, but now taken over by Cygnus Academies Trust, and performed highly in both Progress and Achievement, to become the highest performing school in Tonbridge.  

Stowting Pic   Copy     Royal Rise   Copy

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 were by: Stowting CofE, Ashford, 19.3; Oaks Primary (Academy), Maidstone, 17.2; Joy Lane Foundation, Whitstable, & New Horizons (A), Chatham, 16.9; Hernhill CofE, Canterbury, 16.7; St Mary of Charity CofE (A), Faversham; 16.5; and Kings Farm, Gravesend, 16.4. Six of the highest performers have been in Special Measures in the past five years which, although not recommended, appears to have acted as a spur - five after academisation. 

In Kent, five schools saw every pupil achieve the expected achievement standard set by government but, apart from Sibertswold CofE, Dover each of the others had small age groups of between seven and twelve pupils! Next came: Ramsgate, Holy Trinity CofE with 97%; St Margaret's at Cliffe, 96%; Chilton (A),  Ramsgate; and Temple Ewell CofE (A), Dover, both with 95%, again with a preponderance of East Kent schools, along with the next schools in the list.  Top performers in Medway by this standard were Pilgrim (A), Medway, and St Helen’s CofE, Cliffe, both with 90% of pupils achieving the expected standard.

There are plenty of opportunities for many schools to claim a top position in one or more of these categories, as shown in the following sections. For definitions and full details of performance consult the Government websites for Kent and Medway. The article concludes with some advice to parents trying to select a primary school for their children.....

The high performing Stowting CofE Primary School was no doubt aided by having just nine pupils in Year Six, one of 13 Kent schools with fewer than 10 pupils in the Year Group, including 100% achievement Water Meadows (A) and Worth (A) primaries. At the other end of the scale Nonington CofE was also the second smallest in Kent, with just six pupils in Year Six. Such small numbers clearly mean each child will influence outcomes directly, making these of limited value. All other schools mentioned in this article had full, or nearly full class groups. 

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.

You can see my 2017 report for  comparison here. Unfortunately, I don’t have one for 2018

15 schools in Kent and four in Medway had all three elements graded Well Above Average, listed below. Four of the Kent schools have been in Special Measures in the past five years with St Mary of Charity CofE rising to an Ofsted Outstanding after academy conversion, with Chantry, Kings Farm and Istead Rise all in Gravesham all rising to Good, and making Gravesham the most represented area in this list. Just two of the schools have an Outstanding Ofsted, St Mary of Charity CofE and Hernhill, near Canterbury. Ide Hill CofE and Fawkham CofE in Sevenoaks come from West Kent; Gateway Primary (A) and Our Lady’s Catholic schools from Dartford;  Oaks Primary (A) and South Borough (A) from Maidstone. Otherwise, apart from the three Gravesham schools, the other six all come from east Kent. In Medway, both Kingfisher (A) and Wayfield (A) have been in Special Measures in the last few years, with Lordswood (A) having been found to Require Improvement by Ofsted, but all three have now been classified Good after academisation.    

 Primary Schools with all Progress Grades
Well Above Average 2018-19
Stowting CofE 8.0 4.5 6.8 19.3
Oaks (A) 6.3 6.5 4.4 17.2
Joy Lane 5.0 6.3 5.6 16.9
Hernhill CofE 6.5  4.3  5.9 16.7 
St Mary of Charity CE (A) 4.6 5.8 4.1 16.5
Kings Farm 4..3 6.7 4.4 16.4
Chantry (A) 4.6 5.4 6.3 16.3
Selsted CofE 8.3  3.3  3.4 15.0
Fawkham CofE  3.7  3.8 4.9  12.4 
Preston 4.4 3.9 4.1 12.4
South Borough (A) 4.2 2.8 3.7 10.7
Our Lady's Catholic 4.4 2.8 3.3 10.5
Ide Hill CofE 3.7 3.4 3.1 10.2
Istead Rise (A) 3.3 2.6 3.8 9.7
Gateway (A) 3.5 2.8 3.3 9.6
New Horizons (A) 7.6 2.8 6.5 16.9
Wayfield (A) 6.0 4.7 5.5 16.2
Lordswood (A)  4.0 4.1 3.6 11.7
Kingfisher (A) 3.4 3.0 3.5 9.9
Gravesham Primary Schools
You will find the full Ofsted history of all Gravesham primary schools here. 
Chantry and Istead Rise
These two Gravesham schools were ruined by the Medway Community Trust, comprising three primary schools, whose headteacher was paid a record annual salary of £155,000 in bringing them down, and then left, as explained here. Since then Chantry (A) has been taken over by the Skills for Life Trust (previously Greenacre Academy Trust) which has turned both it and Warren Wood Primary (A) in Rochester ( previously a Medway Council disaster area) round and brought them up from Special Measures to Good, Chantry also being completely rebuilt for good measure. Istead Rise (A), after repeated failure, has also been brought up to Ofsted Good by Swale Academies Trust which appears to specialise in such recoveries, including the classic case of Meopham School – Special Measures under KCC to Ofsted Outstanding. 
King's Farm
This school was wrecked by an Executive Headteacher brought in to manage it, but who was subsequently banned from teaching for life. King's Farm was the first primary school in the country not to be academised after being placed in Special Measures, and has now thrived as half of the Cedar Federation with neighbouring Ifield Special School, and outstanding leadership.   
Copperfield Academy
At the other end of the scale, on a 'Minded to Terminate Notice from Government following its latest Special Measures assessment by Ofsted, Copperfield Academy has recorded some of the lowest KS2 outcomes in the county yet again. 11th lowest number of pupils meeting expected standards at  38% (Kent average 68%); Well Below Average Progress assessments in Reading and maths; fourth lowest score in Maths assessment at 98, county average 105. I have seen correspondence which shows that government has considered rebrokering the school to a more successful Trust. You will find the history of this continuously failing  school here. Currently under the headship of a 'superhead' since September 2019.    

Also of special note are: Reculver CofE Primary (A)' recently found Outstanding after academisation by Canterbury Diocesan Trust following Special Measures, with all Progress classifications above average; Royal Rise Primary (A) in Tonbridge, most recent Ofsted placing it in Special Measures before academisation under Cygnus Trust, two Well Above Average levels (and again below).   

Achievement and Expected Levels
Government has set a level that it expects all schools to reach, of 65% of children achieving the scaled score of 100, achieved this year, with 68% in Kent and 64% in Medway.  There were five Kent schools with every pupil achieving the scaled score of 100 or more in their reading and maths tests, and having their teacher assessed them as 'working at the expected standard' or better in writing. Apart from Siberstwold CofE at Shepherdswell, all of the others: Stowting CofE, Ashford; Valley Invicta at Holborough Lakes (A), Snodland; Water Meadows (previously Hersden) (A), Canterbury; and Worth, Sandwich, had between six and 12 pupils in Year Six. Of these five, only Stowting has all three progress grades Well Above Average, none of the others having strong Progress grades at KS2, suggesting they had high performing groups coming through from Key Stage One.

After these and the other schools identified in the introduction above, came: Bredgar CofE (A), Sittingbourne; Bredhurst Cof E, Medway border; Herne CofE Junior, Canterbury; Our Lady of Hartley Catholic (A), Longfield; Rodmersham, Sittingbourne; and South Borough (A), Maidstone, all with 94%. Then: Fawkham CofE, Sevenoaks; Folkestone, St Peter’s CofE; Hartlip Endowed CofE, Sittingbourne; Speldhurst CofE, Tunbridge Wells; St Joseph’s Catholic (A), Aylesham; and St Peter’s Catholic (A), Sittingbourne all with 93%. Coincidentally, each of the last five named schools had all three Progress scores only average, from which one can deduce that their high achievements are down to having pupils with high ability also identified at the end of Key Stage One, rather than through development in the next four years.   Again, noteworthy is Royal Rise Primary (A), Tonbridge with 90%. Also showing excellent improvement is Elaine Academy. Elaine, taken over by the Aspiration Federation, has seen a remarkable turnaround from being Medway's lowest performing Primary in 2018, reaching the national target of having 65% of pupils achieving the expected standard in 2019, placing it in the middle of the league table of Medway schools. It has solid Progress grades as well as 13% of pupils achieving a higher standard, well above the Medway average of 9%.

Lowest in Kent was: Nonington, CofE, Dover, with 17% of its six pupils achieving this standard, followed by Leeds and Bromfield Cof E, Maidstone with 23% of its 12 pupils. Then came  Sunny Bank Primary, Sittingbourne (Special Measures in June, subject of a withering report, described here), also with 23%, Archbishop Courtenay CofE (A), Maidstone (previously Special Measures), 27%; and Northdown, Margate, with 30%. Lowest in Medway was All Hallows Primary with 28%. 

% of Pupils Achieving at a Higher Standard
11% of pupils nationally 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 Kent it is 12%, with nine Schools reaching  this standard, but none in Medway. 

Highest performer is once again Stowting CofE, with six of its nine Year Six pupils achieving this level. Next come: Bredhurst CofE with 44%; Gateway (A), Dartford, with 42%; Oaks (A), Maidstone & Valley Invicta at Kings Hill (A), 40%; St Thomas Catholic (A), Sevenoaks, 39%; Finberry (A), Ashford & Our Lady’s Catholic, Dartford, 38%; Preston, Canterbury, 37%; and Manor Community, Dartford, 33%.  33 Kent primaries had no high performers, sharply down from the 121 of 2016.

In Medway, New Horizon’s Children’s Academy (A) was the highest performer, with its first KS2 intake, with 32% high performers, followed by St Benedict’s Catholic with 30%. Of particular note is third placed Temple Mill (A), with 24%, yet another school out of Special Measures, having been assessed as Good by Ofsted last year. Six schools had no high performers, again well down on 2016’s 19. All six are academies, showing this is no panacea.

Floor Level
At the other end of the scale Government has set a Floor Target for all schools to reach in previous years, but abolished this year,  In Kent, seven out of 428 schools failed to achieve the same standard this year, with Richmond Academy in Sheppey failing on all four counts for the third year running. Medway had four schools out of 63 below the floor target.
Government has abolished this previous ‘floor level standard’ which operated until 2018, and replaced it by a new level of accountability, ‘Requires Improvement’ in an Ofsted Inspection, which is described as 'a support offer'! That could apply to up to 21 Kent primaries found to Require Improvement over the past three years, see Ofsted article.  That would also include the nine inspected since September: Archbishop Courtney CofE (A); Brook Community, Ashford; Ditton CofE Junior, Aylesford;  Eastry CofE, Sandwich; Holy Family Catholic (A), Maidstone; Knockhall (A), Dartford; Smeeth, Ashford; Sundridge and Brasted CofE, Sevenoaks; and Tiger Free School (A), Maidstone.  This is a very high number for just three months, and for the five Local Authority schools, this support is likely to include pressure to become academies. It is less clear what this means for those already academised, with several of them having already been down this route!

Under the previous scheme, 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 could expect unspecified intervention (now replaced by unspecified support) by government, unless the miss is in writing only. 4% of schools nationally were in this category; the number in Kent if the definition were still in place is 12, of which four are academies. At 2.8% this is well below the national average. Five of the Kent schools stand out, as below. Medway has four schools below Floor Level, including the notorious Delce Academy, which is to be removed from its current Academy Trust and transferred to the Inspire Partnership in February. 

     Failed KS2 'Floor Level' 2018-19
Reading Progress
Writing Progress
Maths Progress
Kent (bottom five)
Richmond Academy (A)
39% -5.7
 -6.1 -19.4
Leeds & Bromfield CofE 23% -5.1  -4.1  -8.6 -17.8
Sunny Bank 23% -5.7 -4.1 -5.5 -15.3
 Archbishop Courtenay (A) 28% -5.4 -2.8 -6.0 -14.2
Salmestone (A)  35%  -5.1  -2.9  -6.0 -14.0
All Hallows (A) 28% -5.1 -4.8 -3.1 -13.0
Delce (A) 42% -3.5 -3.6 -5.1 -12.2
Barnsole (A) 58% -4.8 -3.1 -3.8 -11.7
Bligh  (A) 47% -5.1 -0.2 -5.1 -10.4

Richmond and Knockhall academies were both schools in the disgraced and defunct Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust and are still clearly struggling to recover.

Shockingly, two of the four lowest Medway schools, Barnsole and Bligh are both part of the previously high flying Barnsole Primary Trust, with Barnsole still having its Outstanding status and having finished top of the parallel Medway Table in 2017. 

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 2019 Key Stage 2 data.

Treat all the data outcomes with a certain amount of scepticism. 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. But most importantly for many,  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.

An OFSTED Report about a Kent school from a couple of years back 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 Sunday, 23 May 2021 20:59


  • Comment Link Thursday, 19 December 2019 18:00 posted by Victoria

    I agree with the previous comment. If others are too lazy to carry out the analysis, why don't they sign up Peter to do their work. He was great in the much missed Kent on Sunday.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 19 December 2019 16:10 posted by Linda Bell

    Quite simply the best media analysis of the performance of Kent primary schools. Some other sections haven't even bothered to report it - is it that it requires too much effort?

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 17 December 2019 16:16 posted by Emily C

    What an amazing article, Peter, containing so many nuggets about education in Kent, including the highs and lows. How many hours did it take you to compile? Of special note are the large number of schools failed under KCC and Medway but now thriving as academies - along with plenty of warnings about the pitfalls of leaping in! PETER: Thanks for that. I daren't admit to the time spent, but I do hope it is appreciated. Your point about academies is well made.

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