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Tuesday, 14 October 2014 00:00

Kent and Medway Primary School OFSTED Outcomes 2013-14: Too many children being failed.

The complete set of OFSTED Reports for 2013-14 have now been published and they confirm the very different fortunes of primary, secondary and special schools across Kent and Medway. I published the outcomes of secondary and special schools in a previous article and this one now looks at underperfoming primary sector. Another article highlights failings in both Authorities part way through the year.

Leaders of both Authorities are fond of quoting the combined results of the three sectors, as they hide the gulf between the excellent performance of secondary and special schools which are mainly academies, independent of the Local Councils, and the disappointing, in some cases shocking outcomes of primary schools as a whole, mainly run by the Local Authorities. In response to a previous article on disappearing primary headteachers, the KCC representative falsely claimed that the 80% Good or Outstanding Inspection results this year proved that KCC’s policy was working. In fact, with 81% of 26 secondary schools, 80% of 10 special schools and 54% of the 128 primary schools achieving Good or Outstanding, the overall figure is just 60%, well short of the claimed figure.

A full set of statistics is given below, with a KCC analysis, consistent with the results in this article,  available here. OFSTED results for every Kent and Medway Primary School are also provided on the website.

First the good news......


Kent & Medway Primary OFSTED Outcomes 2013/14


Inadequate Total Up Down
Kent 7 63 41 18 129 43 37
Kent % 5 49 32 14      
1 13 6 5 25 7 7
Academy % 4 52 24 20      
Medway 0 12 11 5 28 4 11
Medway % 0 43 39 18      
National % 6 53 36 5      

 Note: there are minor discrepancies between KCC figures and my own which do not affect the story being told. 

Kent Primary Schools

Provisional KCC figures for Key Stage Two results put Kent’s primary schools at 79%, an improvement of 5% over 2013, around the national average for the first time in many years

St Matthews High Brooms Primary School in Tunbridge Wells has recently improved its OFSTED rating from Special Measures to Good, the only school in Kent to improve by two levels.

St Matthews High Brooms P

However, in spite of KCC’s ‘robust action’ to improve OFSTED ratings, six primaries have dropped by two levels, five of these into Special Measures, including Cranbrook Primary, the primary school controversially having had seven heads since last December. Overall, there are 43 primary schools which have improved their OFSTED Gradings, with 37 going down, a slight improvement. Kent had 18 primary schools failing their OFSTED last year in the Inadequate category, the majority being placed in the lowest division of Special Measures, as distinct from the slightly less worse Serious Weaknesses. This works out at 14% of the total 128 Inspections carried out, nearly three times the national figure over the past year of 5%. Nationally there were 59% of primary schools rated Good or Outstanding, with Kent lagging behind on 54%. Last year Kent came 132d out of 150 Local Authorities nationally, on Good or Outstanding OFSTED assessments, this data offering only limited hopes of improvement.

Some people in education maintain that KCC has a policy to shed its lowest performing primary schools to become academies, although this is of course government policy also. However, the performance of Kent's primary academies hardly fills one with confidence, with 20% of those inspected being found Inadequate, four of these having declined in performance since changing status: Drapers Mill Primary Academy; Molehill Copse; Pilgrims Way; and Westlands Primary Academy. 

There is also a Section 8 Inspection regime, a lighter touch inspection carried out on schools rated Requires Improvement or Inadequate. I only started recording these during the latter part of 2013, but the Reports give an indication of the support and priority or lack of it given to lower performing schools by the Local Authority. On this measure 20% of the 75 schools inspected failed the Inspection.

Lydd Primary School

Inspectors’ comments, such as that for Lydd Primary school in March, hardly fill one with confidence in the Local Authority to improve matters.: “The school has not been well served by the local authority. The wide range of training for staff, promised in the introduction to the local authority statement of action, is not evident. Changes of local authority personnel have not been well managed to provide continuity for the school. Governors and the headteacher feel that they have received contradictory advice from consultants provided by the local authority – most recently about the quality of teachers’ marking. The headteacher values the support provided by another headteacher who is a National Leader for Education. However, the report of her visit to the school lacked sufficient challenge or a sharp enough focus on pupils’ learning

Still no doubt things would be put right by the second monitoring inspection in September– hardly: After the first monitoring inspection, the local authority commissioned the support of The Village Academy, and revised the statement of action to reflect this. A senior local authority adviser has visited the school to evaluate progress. However, suitably detailed reports of these visits have not been provided, and there is no evidence of the adviser challenging the school’s generous self-evaluations in the summer term, despite the decline in pupils’ achievement in Year 2 and Reception. Furthermore, the termly meeting, chaired by the Director of Education and including a group of officers to discuss progress in the school, and planned in the statement of action, has not been convened. As a result, the local authority has not provided the external scrutiny and validation which it committed to deliver. The local authority did not discuss induction arrangements with the acting headteacher, either after her appointment or at the start of term.

Headteachers are losing their jobs if their efforts are not sufficient to turn a school around. How many heads are to roll as a result of this disgraceful level of scrutiny by the Local Authority?

Kent County Council  identifies the worst districts for schools rated OFSTED Good and Outstanding performance on their last inspection as: Maidstone (53%); Gravesham (62%) and Dartford (67%).

Medway Primary Schools

And then there is Medway, which actually manages to put Kent primary OFSTEDs into a relatively good light. I have previously written too often of the failings of Medway Council with regard to the children in its care, to repeat the full sorry story yet again, and so will confine myself to the basic facts here.

For 2012/13 OFSTED’s Medway Council came 149th out of 150 Local Authorities in the OFSTED Good and Outstanding League  table (Kent came 132nd).

For 2013/14, out of 28 Primary School OFSTEDs, there were NO outstanding schools, just 43% Good, 39% Requiring Improvement, and 18% Inadequate (nearly four times the national average).

4 schools improved their rating whilst an appalling 11 saw their rating fall showing the declining performance of Medway primaries. These were: Greenvale Infants down two to Serious Weaknesses; and Byron Primary and Twydall Primary down two to Special Measures.  

7 out of 15 Monitoring Inspections were unsatisfactory, too many, including Cuxton Junior School, being highly critical of the performance of Medway’s ‘School Improvement Team’.

Apparently, an improvement from 146th to 142nd in the national Key Stage 2 outcomes justifies the comment from the Deputy Cabinet Member for ‘School Improvement’ that this shows: parents can be assured of a good start in their children’s school life”.

Surely, the above facts, not opinions, show otherwise.

Last modified on Sunday, 11 October 2015 19:05

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