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Wednesday, 22 January 2020 14:49

Ofsted Annual Report 2018-19 (1): Kent and Medway 'Stuck Schools'

Update 24th January: Royal Harbour Academy has been found to Require Improvement by Ofsted today, up from 'Requires Significant Improvement. This leaves just Holmesdale School as the only Kent secondary school in Special Measures.

The Chief Ofsted Inspector has published her Annual Report for 2018-19, available here. The year has been very successful overall for both Kent and Medway schools being inspected, with all categories outperforming national data. I have explored these in two previous articles, the first looking at secondary school Ofsted Reports  which show both grammar and non-selective schools in Kent and Medway performing comfortably above the national average in Progress and Attainment. At primary level, both Authorities again outperformed national data, this time with academies noticeably achieving higher levels and improved assessments against Local Authority schools. A third article on Special School Inspections will follow shortly. 

Rightly, Ofsted is concerned about ‘stuck schools’ and I look at each of the ten stuck schools in Kent and three in Medway below, discovering that this is a very broad category. I am also preparing a follow up article  looking at two other issues on which the Report focuses: schools where there is potentially off-rolling and excessive movement of pupils: and school exclusions, with Kent enjoying the fourth lowest proportion of permanent exclusions in the country.

Ofsted Statistics

Kent and Medway Secondary
Ofsted Outcomes 2018-19
Good or
National 63% 23% 8%
Kent Grammar 100% 0% 0%
Kent Non-Selective 69% 31% 0%
Medway Grammar No school Inspected
Medway Non-Selective 100% 0% 0%

This table takes account of all Short Inspections also carried out. See here for a definition of Short Inspection, together with considerably more detail and explanation relating to these outcomes. You will find National and Local Authority tables here.  The inclusion of Short Inspections makes in the National table unfortunately make it impossible for me to separate 'Good' and 'Outstanding'  outcomes in the statistics (feel free to enlighten me). 

Kent and Medway Primary
Ofsted Outcomes 2018-19
Good or
National 82% 14% 3%
Kent 89% 10% 1%
Medway 91% 9% 0%

This table also takes account of all Short Inspections also carried out.  See here for considerably more detail and explanation relating to these outcomes. This primary school article makes clear that in both Kent and Medway, the academisation of underperforming primary schools is generally good for most of them (but certainly not all), with considerable improvement in performance taking place after conversion.

Stuck Schools

According to Ofsted:

A ‘stuck’ school is a school that has not been judged to be good since 1 September 2006 and has had at least four full inspections since then. If the school has become an academy or changed its unique reference number (URN), then predecessor school inspection outcomes are also considered as part of the history of the school. At the end of August 2019, there were 415 stuck schools (2% of all schools in the country).  

Note: in the references below, 'Satisfactory' for an Ofsted Outcome was replaced by 'Requires Improvement' and is regarded as the equivalent. 

I have identified four Kent secondary ‘stuck schools’ and six primary schools through an analysis of all Ofsted performance. There would be many more primary schools on the list if were it not for the policy of encouraging or forcing poorly performing schools to become academies. This site shows a steady flow of Kent primary schools improving their Ofsted rating after academisation, most recently at Kent and Medway Primary School Ofsted Outcomes 2018-2019, reflecting the poor performance of Kent’s School Improvement department, the now commercial The Education People. In an interview with Kent Messenger, Matt Dunkley Kent County Council’s director of young people and education wrongly claims that 'there were only one or two schools in the county that were classified as being ‘stuck’'.  Very different from my ten, listed below which equate to 2% of all schools, the national average!

The criterion for defining a 'stuck school' is very specific, and my analysis shows that there are a number of others one might expect to comply who are not on the list. These may be  by virtue of one very old 'Good'; assessment, or schools being brokered or re-brokered as academies, giving them a three year break from Inspection according to the rules. Examples on this site include Delce and Elaine primary academies from Medway both of whom had been sponsored by weak Academy Trusts and have now been rebrokered to more reliable sponsors, but as a result each have a total of six inspection free years. 

Kent Secondary Schools. If you follow the link to each one below, it will take you to the Individual Kent Secondary Schools Section of  this website, where you will find a full list of all Ofsted Inspections and Monitoring Inspections since the date quoted. In some cases I have not been able to access older data, before the school was academised, so it is possible they should not be on the list if there was a previous 'Good' outcome  

Dover Christ Church Academy  Before becoming a sponsored academy with Canterbury Christ Church University in September 2010, it was called Archers Court School. Has four Ofsted outcomes below Good since 2012, but no Inadequate assessment. 

St Edmund's Catholic School, Dover. Five below 'Good' outcomes since 2006, including Special Measures in 2013.  Sponsored Academy with the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership  from July 2016, after a difficult time. 

Note: Both these two Dover Schools, as well as Astor College which escapes by virtue of a Good Ofsted in 2011, suffer academically because of the influence of the Dover Test, which takes away an additional 120 plus higher ability pupils a year who did not pass the Kent Test for admission to the two Dover grammar schools.

High Weald Academy, previously Angley School before sponsored academisation in September 2012, with the Brook Learning Trust. One 'Notice to Improve' in 2010  and three subsequent 'Requires Improvement'. Struggles to attract pupils, many of whom look to schools in other accessible towns. 

Oasis Academy, Isle of Sheppey. Has been a disaster area for as long as I have known it (stretching back to 1984), re-brokered once in 2009, now with Oasis Community Learning . Multiple articles accessible by the site search engine, most recently here, reporting on it as an Ofsted 'stuck school'. 'Notice to Improve' in 2010 and then three subsequent 'Requires Improvement', along with five Monitoring Inspections. 

Kent Primary Schools.

If you go to Individual Schools, Kent Primary Schools you will find a list of Kent Districts. Click the one you wish to look at and you will find a list of all Ofsted Inspection Outcomes for each school in the District, dating back to at least 2012. 

Archbishop Courtenay Primary School, Maidstone. Frequently appears in lists of low performing schools.  The one failure by Aquila (Diocese of Canterbury Academy Trust).  Ofsted Record: May 2010 - Satisfactory; November 2012 -Serious Weaknesses; March 2014 - Requires Improvement. September 2014 became a sponsored academy with Aquila. July 2019 - Requires Improvement.

Cage Green Primary School, Tonbridge.  Ofsted RecordSep 2006 - Outstanding; Dec 2009 - Satisfactory; October 2012 - Special Measures; July 2014 Requires Improvement; Oct 2016, Requires Improvement; January 2019 - Requires Significant Improvement; July 2019 became Sponsored Academy under Connect Schools Academy Trust

Royal Rise Primary School, Tonbridge. Previously St Stephen's Primary School, now part of the Cygnus Academies Trust. Ofsted Record: January 2007 - Satisfactory; February 2010 - Satisfactory; October 2012 - Special Measures; July 2014 - Requires Improvement; September 2016 - Special Measures again. Became Sponsored Academy under Cygnus Trust July 2017. Remarkable turnaround for 2019 Key Stage 2

NOTE: Cage Green and St Stephen's covered adjacent parts of North Tonbridge along with a third schools which also struggled but has now turned itself round. Between them they accounted for 49 of the 70 vacancies in Tonbridge's 14 primary schools, so not a lot of choice for families in the area.  

Copperfield Academy, Gravesham. Previously Dover Road Primary. Disaster school for the past 15 years under both KCC and REach2 Academy Trust (from 2013). Multiple articles, most recently here, and originally here. Ofsted Record: July 2008 - unclear but from 2011 Report, less than Good; July 2011- Special Measures;  November 2013 became a sponsored academy with REach2; September 2016 - Requires Improvement; January 2019 - Special Measures. Since then there have been two glowing Monitoring Inspection Reports, clearly oblivious of the very poor KS2 performance in 2019. Also 2019, there was discussion at National Commissioner Level, redacted copy here, about possibly rebrokering Copperfield to another Trust, a Sussex Trust being interested but is reported to have withdrawn. The question now is: will the good Monitoring Inspections hold sway, or will the dreadful KS2 results see Copperfield taken away from the Trust that has failed it for the past six years. 

Pilgrims' Way Primary School, Canterbury. A school which has had considerable misfortune serving a difficult community in a socially deprived area of the city. Placed in Special Measures in January 2011, it was managed by the Executive Head of St Stephen's Junior with the intention of it becoming a Sponsored Academy and in 2012 it was found to be Satisfactory. However, relationships broke down and the school was moved on to the care of The Village Academy Trust, a moderately performing Trust. The school was then found to have Serious Weaknesses by Ofsted in October 2013, the school's circumstances being described as 'turbulent' by Ofsted. Two months later, the school became a Sponsored Academy under The Village Academy Trust. By November 2016 the school was found to Require Improvement but just a year later it was found to have Serious Weaknesses once again. The school served a former large army barracks, and until 2015 when this closed admitted a considerable number of transient children from army families. Then the London Borough of Redbridge bought the barracks and re-located 250 families there, a high proportion of whom would send children to Pilgrims Way. This placed the school under considerable strain and not surprisingly in September 2017 the school was found to have Serious Weaknesses by Ofsted. The Report opens: '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'. The issues are enlarged by a local newspaper report at the time. In May 2018 the school was re-brokered to the Veritas Multi-Academy Trust.  

 Richmond Academy, Sheerness. One of the victims of the notorious Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust, which was closed by government leaving the school carrying considerable debt. In July 2010 it was served with a Notice to Improve by Ofsted, and declined further to be placed in Special Measures in October 2011. The following year, Kent County Council  placed it under the control of Lilac Sky and it was found to Require Improvement in July 2013. Shortly afterwards it became a Sponsored Academy under Lilac Sky until the Trust was closed down by government in December 2016, being re-brokered to Stour Academy Trust in January 2017. It should have escaped a further inspection for three years, but probably because of low Key State Two performance was inspected early in January 2019 and found again to Require Improvement.  The Report begins with 'Pupils’ test results at the end of key stages 1 and 2 in 2018 were well below national averages', but continues 'Officers and trustees of The Stour Academy Trust have high expectations and are relentless in securing the necessary improvements. They are systematically reversing past weaknesses and creating a culture of achievement in the school' , one of many condemnations of the failures of Lilac Sky the Report looking forward optimistically to the future. 

Medway Secondary Schools

All Medway secondary schools have a current Good or Outstanding Ofsted rating apart from the new Medway UTC, opened in 2015, which has already been re-brokered after being placed in Special Measures in May 2018. It has been renamed Waterfront UTC and is  now run by the Howard Academy Trust.   

 Medway Primary Schools

The dire state of Medway primary schools ten years ago can be seen from a table listing Ofsted Outcomes for 2010-11, with some from 2009. This names 19 schools with a Good Ofsted, 26 with Satisfactory (Requires Improvement) and 11 Inadequate (Notice to Improve or Special Measures). You will find  a further damning flavour of Medway Council's incompetence a few years later (2014) here. Medway Council's solution was to develop a policy to encourage all of its schools to become academies, thus evading any responsibility for its schools, the figure currently standing at 52 out of 79 schools academised. As a result, many of the schools that might have been on this list have improved their Ofsted grading and no longer qualify as stuck schools. 

Featherby Junior School, part of the Maritime Academy TrustOfsted Reports: January 2008 - Satisfactory; January 2011 - Satisfactory; March 2013 - Requires Improvement; January 2015 - Requires Improvement; March 2017 - Special Measures. The school became a Sponsored Academy in September 2017 and so will not be reassessed until later this year.

Stoke Primary Academy, Hoo Peninsula. Ofsted Record: December 2006 - Satisfactory: January 2010 - Satisfactory; June 2013 - Requires Improvement. Became a sponsored academy with The Williamson Trust in November 2014. September 2017 -  Requires Improvement  Re-brokered 2018 to the Leigh Academy Trust along with the whole of the Williamson Trust.

Elaine Primary Academy, Strood. you will find considerable history here. Like Stoke Primary Academy above, Elaine was first sponsored by The Williamson Trust in December 2013, but then re-brokered to the Inspire Partnership in May 2018.   I can't confirm that Elaine is on the list as I haven't been able to track down Inspections before 2010, but the school's track record suggests it ought to be on the list of those Stuck. Performance is already improving under new leadership. Ofsted Record:   January 2011 - Satisfactory; May 2014 - Requires Improvement;  June 2016 - Requires Improvement. April 2017, issued with Pre-Termination Warning Notice following poor standards. 



Last modified on Friday, 12 March 2021 06:02

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