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Thursday, 03 February 2022 07:21

Medway: Supplement to my 'Review of Seventeen Years of Support for Families'


Update July 2022: Medway Grammar Co-Ed Plans Update: Mainly More False Claims. 

One of the great disappointments of my 15 years of campaigning about the many deficiencies and incompetences of Medway Council is that I have completely failed to achieve any progress in seeing the Medway grammar school selection process made fit for purpose. This was the subject of one of my earliest articles in 2009 and continued through to the latest on 2022 admissions. I did however stop a wholly unnecessary increase in girls’ grammar school places by the Thinking Schools Academies Trust at the expense of the shrinking further the limited number of boys’ places (ironically considering the latest proposal). I also blocked several attempts by local Academy Trusts to change their admission criteria to suit themselves rather than Medway children and won a number of complaints to the Information Commissioner about the incompetence of the Council and its Councillors. 


You will find below a quick gallop through some of the 60 plus items I have written about Medway schools, focusing on Council and academy trust matters, to complement my earlier Review of Seventeen Years of Support for Families.

Many of the older articles feature Council wriggling to avoid providing inconvenient information, and I successfully took the Council to the Information commissioner several times to secure this. However, for the past two years, the relevant department has operated in an exemplary way, for me at least. This is consistent with a positive change of attitude across the service from around November 2019, and a growing sense that it at least has at last noticed the Medway Council strapline: ‘Serving You’.  

Grammar schools and the selection process feature extensively in these articles, including several revealing the abject failure of the Council to take on the vested interests of the stronger Academy Trusts in Medway. Grammar school admission patterns have remained chaotic for many years, with the Council degenerating to complete madness in 2019, proposing a new grammar school, although 20% of Medway grammar places where then and are now currently taken up by children from outside the LA.

However, there are plenty of items about other matters as shown below!

The Medway Test
In 2011 I wrote an article entitled Ombudsman Decision on Medway Test and Review Failings, although I had already been campaigning about the failings of the Medway Review process for some years. The 2013 item on Medway Test and Review both discriminate sharply against boys and younger children showed why the Test itself was, and is still, not fit for purpose, a demonstration expanded and further justified in multiple articles ever since without seeing any change. Passing over a 2017 article underlining in graphic detail Medway Council’s incompetence in what I described as a farce, the situation became even worse as described in Medway Test Analysis for 2019 Admission: Review fails Medway children again. In this, I described the appalling Review process where just four out of 159 Medway applications were successful, and not one of the 41 from outside the Authority. Contrast this with the Council target of 2% successful Reviews which would have equated to 67 children being found of grammar school ability! The 2021 results show no change in process or its deliberate unfairness since before 2011.
Medway Grammar Schools
There are three Medway grammar schools for girls, two for boys and one co-educational. Year on year, large numbers of initially non-selective girls are admitted to one girls’ grammar school on appeal, whilst in most years no other initially non-selective children at all are offered places in the four other grammar schools, as shown here. Large numbers of children, comprising 20% of the intake, the large majority being girls, take up places at three of the schools from outside Medway. Add all these factors, together with the much lower proportion of boys passing the Medway Test, and it is evident there is massive discrimination towards girls in total. I have set out the facts of this scandal annually for many years past, most recently here, to no effect except my successful actions to block two ridiculous attempts by The Thinking Schools Academy Trust which runs both Rochester Grammar (girls) and Holcombe Grammar (boys) to turn the latter into a co-educational school, increasing the number of places for girls further and reducing those for boys! This Trust has been utterly ruthless (and fairly unsuccessful) in attempting to promote their own interests, aided by a spineless Council, at the expense of other schools, notably Chatham Grammar. Currently, these three named schools all fill their places by importing large numbers of children from outside Medway, for Chatham (28% of places filled by ooc girls according to the January 2021 census), Holcombe (33% of boys) and Rochester (36% of girls). Again, I have analysed the pattern of oversubscription and vacancies for Medway grammar schools regularly most recently in  September 2021.

In 2018, TSAT unlawfully attempted to prioritise places at its two grammar schools for children attending Trust primary schools, along with several other Medway secondary academies pursuing the same aim. I successfully challenged the proposals, with Medway Council putting its head in the sand, as explained here, and via the links therein. More recently I have focused on Rochester Grammar’s own goals as it has seen its staying on rate into the Sixth Form plummet to the lowest across Kent and Medway, accompanied by a sharp decline in popularity for local families, as explained in my previous article and here. I have also highlighted the disgraceful behaviour of TSAT officers towards the Holcombe Grammar appeals, to ensure that they gave places to out of Medway children rather than any local boys who had just missed selection.

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Last modified on Sunday, 17 July 2022 06:51

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