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Sunday, 30 October 2016 18:26

Secondary and Special Schools OFSTED 2015-16: Performance still Strong and Improving

For the most recent school year, Kent and Medway had fifteen secondary schools given full inspections between them, with 73% being assessed as Good or Outstanding, well above the national percentage of 57% (latest figure as of March). Seven schools improved their grading, with just two going the other way. The most impressive performance was by Skinners Kent Academy, which achieved an ‘Outstanding’ rating, see below.
SKA 2 
The tilt given by the most recent OFSTED assessment towards performance is seen in the achievement of the four grammar schools, all improving their grading, three to ‘Outstanding’: Dartford and Wilmington girls’ grammars and Harvey Grammar, although the new priority on Progress 8 Levels may go some way to reversing this.

In Medway the two schools inspected, Rainham Girls and Thomas Aveling, both maintained their ‘Good’ status.

Kent’s Special Schools continue to be rated at the highest level with every single school now currently rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ (although the Director of Education quoted just 96% in his most recent Report on OFSTED).These successes include last year’s three Inspections (79% 'Good' or 'Outstanding' nationally), with Milestone School maintaining its ‘Outstanding’ rating, the other two schools improving to ‘Good’. In Medway, the one Special School inspected, the INSPIRE Free Special School, was placed in special Measures.

You will find my previous Report on Kent OFSTED Inspections up to March 2016 here.

Skinners Kent Academy (SKA)
SKA, now occupying new purpose built premises, has had a glorious few years since the inspirational headteacher, Sian Carr, was appointed around the time the school became an academy in 2009. This was part of the initial academies programme which replaced failing schools ‘in deprived social areas’ with a completely new start sponsored school. I was amongst the many who questioned the politics behind giving priority to such schools in Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks and Longfield, but certainly SKA replaced a school with over 20 years of failure, being regarded as the sink school in the area, as explained in a previous article.
Non-Selective Schools
I have been challenged many times about my support for the good performance of Kent’s non-selective schools and why they buck the doom merchants who argue they are destined to failure. The fact remains that the main key to success is leadership from the top and has little if anything to do with academisation, for you can find excellent leaders in all types of Kent schools, although there is a worrying and increasing shortage of such leaders. Unfortunately, too many of the first generation of academies failed on this measure despite the hundreds of millions of pounds spent on them as shown by the high rate of attrition amongst headteachers at many of these schools.

SKA also points up a second factor key factor in success, which again has little to do with selection. It is surely no coincidence that all three non-selective schools in Tunbridge Wells, the wealthiest Borough in Kent, have been awarded Outstanding OFSTED assessments, along with two of the three grammar schools.

The Kemnal Academies Trust
Orchards Academy in Swanley, also in the original Academy programme, is another school that has struggled badly in the past to throw off its previous reputation. It has now been awarded a second consecutive ‘Good’ OFSTED Report, again with the high quality of its leadership highlighted. It is no coincidence the school is the fourth best performing non-selective school in the county, according to the recently released Provisional GCSE results.
Orchards Academy

It is sponsored by the The Kemnal Academies Trust from Bromley, one that I have strongly criticised in the past for the performance of its primary schools but both its local secondary schools to have been inspected this year have been found to be ‘Good’ by OFSTED. The second is Rainham School for Girls in Medway, again repeating its previous performance.

Special Measures
I covered the performance of Swadelands, the one secondary school in the two Authorities whose OFSTED grading has declined (by two), in my previous article. Swadelands was placed in Special Measures, so that Kent now has a second SM school making a total of 2%, well below the national average of 5% of secondary schools rated inadequate. It is being taken over by the Valley Invicta Academies Trust. Outstanding
Other Schools Inspected
The other schools with OFSTED Inspections in the past year included Dover Grammar Boys’, up to ‘Good’ from its previously disastrous (as grammar schools go)  ‘Requires Improvement’ so that all Kent and Medway Grammar Schools are now rated ‘Good’ or’ Outstanding’.

Also inspected were Archbishop’s (up one) and Brockhill Park both rated ‘Good’. Assessed as ‘Requires Improvement’ were: Canterbury Academy; Knole Academy (down one); and the ridiculously named SchoolsCompany The Goodwin Academy (up one).

Special Schools
As well as Milestone School in New Ash Green, with its 'Outstanding' classification, the other two Special Schools inspected were Orchard School in Canterbury and Rowhill School in Longfield, both catering for pupils with Behavioural and Learning Difficulties. Both schools were rated as ‘Good’, both up one level, having made the required improvements. 
OFSTED for Kent and Medway Secondary Schools: Sep 15-July 16
Outstanding Good Requires 


Up Down
Kent Grammar  3 1  0 0 4  4 0
Kent Non-Sel 1  3  3  1  8 3  2
Kent % Performance 33% 33% 25% 8%      
Medway Non-Sel  0  2  0  0  0  0
Academies 3  5  3  0  11  6  1
National %
Sep 15 - Mar 16
6% 51% 35% 8%


Last modified on Tuesday, 01 November 2016 16:08

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