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Friday, 16 December 2016 00:08

Kent & Medway Primary School Performance: 2016 Key Stage 2 Results

Update and Correction Saturday 17th December

There is a sea change in measuring performance in primary schools this year with parents facing a barrage of statistics to assist in school choice and the factors outlined in a BBC article  leading with “Parents are being urged to ignore the latest school league tables, after "chaotic" changes to tests in England.”

Nevertheless, there is important information amongst the mass of data which will enable a high proportion of schools to claim they are performing well by one measure or another and I attempt to point up some of this below, with a strong warning about reliability.

Government has now developed two key measures, firstly about the progress achieved between the age of 7 (Key Stage 1) and 11 (Key Stage 2), measured around a National Average of 0 (zero). Secondly achievement measured by the percentage of pupils in the school reaching a standardised score of 100 in mathematics, English reading, and spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG).

The good news in the Kent table is that overall pupils achieved above average progress in each of the three elements, and that 59% of children reached the standardised score across the board, against a National Average of 53%. This is way up on 2015's statistically absolutely average performance

For Medway, the table shows that pupils achieved below national average progress in reading and maths, and average progress in SPAG, leading to a below National Average attainment score of 49% in attainment. It is unclear at this stage whether this is an improvement on last year's bottom place in the country. 

Further details of the county figures below, with some interpretation, together with a look at some individual schools. I conclude with attempting some advice for parents looking for a primary school for their child in September 2017 based on this data.

Progress levels are averaged across the country, the National Average being adjusted to give a reading of 0.0.

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. The tables show their own range for each figure, for example, a school with a score of 2.7 will have a range of accuracy from between 0.6 to 4.8.

Progress Levels are highlighted by the two top performing Kent Primary Schools, each with every child achieving at least the expected level. Children at Rodmersham School made average progress across the board, suggesting the year group  (of just 15 children) was a very high ability group at the beginning of Key Stage 2 (aged 7). To complicate it, alternatively, they could have been taught exceptionally well during the Infant Stage to bring them up to such a high standard. At Colliers Green CofE on the other hand (again a small school with just 12 children  children performed at a well above National Average level in reading and maths, and average in SPAG, to achieve this 100% performance, arguably a better performance.

Six Kent schools achieved Well Above National Average in all three assessments: Great Chart Primary, Ashford with  attainment 92%, West Minster Primary, Sheerness 77%, Smarden Primary, Ashford 75%, Westgate Primary School, Sittingbourne and Tymberwood Academy, Gravesend, attainment 73%. Another 32 Kent schools made Well Above National Average in two of the three assessments.

In Medway, Barnsole Primary with attainment at 84%, achieved Well Above progress in all three assessments, with Luton Juniors Well Above in two.

 Achievement and Expected Levels
Government has set a level that it expects all schools to reach of 65% of children achieving the standardised score of 100, even though the National Average was well below this at 53% of schools. 175 out of 429 Kent Primary schools achieved this expected standard, but just 6 in Medway out of 67.
I have not yet seen a table of Local Authority performance, but it is clear that Kent's 59% is good. Medway at 49% is the same distance below the National Average, and it remains to be seen if it has improved on the dire performance of recent years, recorded here.  

High performing Kent schools were: Colliers Green near Cranbrook and Rodmersham near Sittingbourne, both 100%; Temple Ewell, Dover 95%; Ethelbert Road, Faversham, 94%; Great Chart 92%; St Joseph’s Northfleet, 91%; Brookland in Romney Marsh, St Eanswyth’s in Folkestone, East Borough, Maidstone and Herne, Whitstable all with 90%. Three of these, Ethelbert Road, Rodmersham and Temple Ewell were also high performers in 2015. Half of these are small schools with fewer than 20 children, including the two with 100%, but Great Chart and East Borough both had 60 children in Year Six.

Lowest were: Parkside Community, Canterbury with 8% (pupils making well below average progress in all three assessments; High Halden 9% and Ulcombe, Maidstone 10%, (but pupils in both schools making average progress in Reading and SPAG).

Medway Council is proud of the improvement in performance of its schools from bottom to 126th out of 151 Local Authorities. The highest performing school was: Barnsole with 83%; followed by Brompton-Westbrook and Woodlands with 77%. Barnsole and Woodlands were also high performers last year. At the other end were: Allhallows, 8%, pupils making average progress in Reading and maths; and Warren Wood 19, pupils making very mixed progress being above average in SPAG, average in maths, but well below average in Reading.  

% of pupils achieving at a higher standard
Around 5% of pupils are regarded as 'achieving at a higher standard' which this year equated to a standardised score of 110. In both Ide Hill Primary, Sevenoaks, and Tunstall CofE Aided, Sittingbourne 27% of pupils reached this standard, coincidentally both having 80% of pupils on or above the expected standard. Next come: Mersham Primary, Ashford (79%) on 25%; Great Chart Primary (92%) with 22% high performers; Maidstone St Johns CofE (79%) and Fordcombe CofE (71%) on 21% high performers. 121 Kent primaries had no high performers including Rodmersham. In Medway, St Augustine of Canterbury Catholic (57%) and Walderslade (68%) both had 14% of their pupils as high performers, with 19 schools having no high performers. 
 Floor Level
Schools that have a Performance of 65% OR Progress  above all of: Reading -5; SPAG  -7 and Maths -5, are regarded as having reached Floor Level. If both are below this standard, the school can expect unspecified intervention by government. 5% of schools nationally are in this category, including six in Kent - Parkside Community in Canterbury (8%): St Edward's Catholic on Sheppey (13%); Charing CofE Aided near Ashford (15%); St James the Great Academy, Maidstone (20%); Chilham St Mary's CofE (27%); and Dymchurch, Romney Marsh(27%).  In Medway there were five: All Hallows Primary Academy (8%); Maundene School (20%); Twydall (31%); Wayfield (34%); Cedar (39%). Last year there were 23 Kent primaries below Floor Level (although it was a different measure of performance, and Medway 13.  
Coasting Schools
Then there are Coasting schools, defined as underperformance over three consecutive years. This is complicated by the fact of the 2016 assessments being very different to those that went before, but nevertheless government’s enthusiasm for identifying these to drive up standards, has meant they have a separate definition for the two previous years.

The 2016 part of the definition is that  if fewer than 85% of children achieve the expected standard at the end of primary AND average progress made by pupils in English reading or English writing or mathematics is below a level set against the new primary progress measures.

The progress measure is to be set year on year, but for 2016 it is: -2.5 reading; -3.5 SPAG, -2.5 maths. I do not have the three year data to determine the Coasting schools. 

Advice (to be revised)
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 2016 Key Stage 2 data.

Treat all the data outcomes with a certain amount of scepticism. Firstly, there were all the problems with the implementation of the Test which ranged over the whole of the school year 2015-16, and which have been widely publicised. 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. However, 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.

Last modified on Tuesday, 20 December 2016 22:03

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