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Displaying items by tag: Medway Grammar Schools - Kent Independent Education Advice

You will find the initial Medway Secondary school allocation figures here, showing that 84.3% of Medway children were offered places at their first choice school, with just 2.6%, or 77 children, offered none of their six choices, these being allocated a local school by Medway Council. I have also prepared parallel articles on oversubscription and vacancies for Kent grammar and non-selective schools.  I now have more detailed information showing that the most popular school in Medway by far was Brompton Academy, which turned away 108 first preferences, followed by Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School with 42.

     Brompton Academy              SJWMS1              

 The Victory Academy has most vacancies, 110 on allocation, twice as many as the next school, Chatham Grammar Girls’ with 55.

158 of the 197 children from outside Medway taking up places in local schools at this stage come from Kent, with 113 of these taking up places in Medway Grammar schools, 48 at The Rochester Grammar School. 140 of the 142 Medway children going out county are taking up places at Kent schools, mainly non-selective. 

As well as further details below, I look at the implications of these figures on the decision to turn Chatham Grammar School for Boys into a co-educational school from September 2017.

Published in News and Comments

Further Update: Application Turned Down by Government in August 2016, here.

Update: Medway Council's objections published in full here

Chatham Grammar School for Boys is to admit a co-educational intake for September 2017, subject to approval from the Regional Schools Commissioner (advised by the Regional Headteacher Board of six headteachers, of which Ms Shepherd is a member, but who would not be involved in the decision), following a decision by the Directors of the Thinking School Academy Trust. This decision represents a reduction in opportunity for boys, leaving Medway with one very oversubscribed boys’ grammar, inaccessible to those in most of the Council’s area, as opposed to three girls’ grammars.

Chatham Boys 3

The school is to change its name to Holcombe Grammar School.

The Trust has scrapped its controversial proposal to admit children through a decision of the Admission Committee without testing, following my previous article pointing out that it was illegal. This article also covers some of the main issues and provides links to other items.

Medway Council refused my FOI Request for their response to the Consultation “in the public interest!” leaving one to wonder yet again, which public's interests they serve. 

Published in Peter's Blog

The issues surrounding Chatham Grammar School for Boys’ proposals to go co-educational and also to redefine the way “grammar school ability” is determined are obviously of considerable importance to all secondary schools and the families affected in Medway. You will find my most recent article on the controversy here.

Medway Council’s view is clearly central to the situation as they have legal responsibility for the provision of education, if not the power since the introduction of academies.

According to the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, owners of Chatham Grammar, Medway Council is supportive of the proposal to go co-educational: “In Medway the Council can see the benefit of a co-educational school to absorb both boys and girls” and “Medway LEA were happy for the school to increase its published admission number to accommodate all those that applied for a place”.

Unfortunately, whether this is true or not is currently a secret, as Medway Council is refusing to make its representations to the consultation public at this time……

Published in Peter's Blog
The issues arising from an analysis of the results of the recent seriously flawed Medway Test for grammar school admission are even greater than last year, with:
A mistake in calculating the pass mark by Medway Council, according to their own rules - depriving 40 Medway children of grammar school places;
The Review process selecting fewer than half the number of children it is targeted to choose, because of insufficient quality of school work presented - another 30 children denied places;
Continued powerful bias towards girls and older children with 21% more girls than boys found suitable for grammar school. The highly unsatisfactory Review process selected fourteen Medway children born in the first quarter of the school year, compared to just one in the fourth quarter.
The Council excuse is that the process works as it all comes right in the end (it doesn’t)!
With the test and Review both being so biased towards girls and older children, and the inability of the Council to apply their own formula for calculating the pass mark, it is surely time for it to be replaced by a process that is fit for purpose.
The school with the highest percentage of pupils being found selective is St William of Perth Catholic Primary with 47%, followed remarkably by Temple Mill Primary with 42%.

For further information on all these headlines, read on…

Published in News and Comments

You will find a more recent article here

Last month I reported on the controversial proposal by Chatham Grammar School for Boys to become co-educational. This article looks at an even more controversial aspect whereby, with the school to be capable of expansion up to 180 children, a committee of governors would be able to fill any vacancies after school allocation each March with children they choose, using their own interpretation of ‘grammar school ability’.

To enable this to take place, the proposed new school Admission Policy states: “From National Offer Day, any available spaces will be allocated to those children who have provided sufficient evidence to the Admissions Committee of being of grammar school standard”.

Another factor emerging is the low proportion of boys being assessed suitable for grammar school in recent years, being 19% of the total number from Medway primary schools in 2015 (target is 25% of girls and boys), which may itself have precipitated the proposal if the school is desperate to make up numbers.   

At a Parental Consultation meeting on the proposal it was implied that Medway Council supported the proposal. It would be useful to know if this is true, as I cannot see why any secondary schools other than those in the Thinking Schools Academy Trust would support this proposal......

Published in Peter's Blog

See Further Controversy, in a new article here

Chatham Grammar School for Boys has published a proposal to become a mixed grammar school from September 2017, and to change its name, possibly to Holcombe Grammar School, reflecting the name of the school site.

Chatham Boys 2

This proposal to increase the number of potential students at the school by admitting girls is mainly driven by the considerable number of current vacancies at the school, described in the proposal as “under-used capacity”. With the population of eleven year old Medway children having fallen to its lowest point before a slow and steady increase over the next few years, the problem is exacerbated by what for me is the unacceptable and annual bias in the Medway Test towards girls, with 371 Medway girls and just 325 boys assessed as of grammar school ability in the Test this year. The imbalance will have been increased further by this year’s Medway Review results, which also always favour girls.

As a result of these two factors, just 81 of the school’s 120 places were awarded in March for admission in September, the school having already reduced its capacity from 146 a few years ago. Further places will have been taken up after appeals. 

Published in News and Comments
Updated 5th October

The Medway Test pass mark for admission to Medway Grammar Schools in September 2016 is an aggregate of 521, slightly down on last year’s 525, but you can read nothing in to the annual variation of the pass mark as this is arrived at by a local standardisation of marks, as explained below and elsewhere and is a factor of the proportion of Medway children who decide to take the test, not the difficulty. There is further detail about pass rates below. 

You will find a comprehensive survey of Medway Test arrangements and issues here, containing advice and information, with links through to Review Information and Advice and other articles.

I am afraid I am recovering from an operation and will not be able to offer any support to parents this autumn. To assist families trying to decide whether to go to Review, I offer what I hope is helpful advice below as an alternative.

Published in News and Comments
Monday, 20 April 2015 00:20

Medway Academy Monopoly Continues

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the abdication of responsibility for the Bishop of Rochester Academy in Chatham, as the Diocese of Rochester, the previous main sponsor, decided to abandon its attempts to improve the standards and popularity of the school. The Academy has now been passed on to the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, headed up by The Rochester Grammar School, incorporating Chatham Grammar School for Boys and several primary schools.

Now comes news of a surprising merger between two more Medway Academy Trusts, an agreement having been reached to merge The Thomas Aveling Academy Trust (TA) with the Fort Pitt Grammar School Academy Trust (FP), under the catchy title of Fort Pitt Thomas Aveling Academy Trust. 

Thomas Aveling

What is notable in a Local Authority whose academy chains are currently dominated by grammar schools (the third chain being the Sir Joseph Williamson’s Academy Trust), is that this time the non-selective school appears to be at least equal in status.

Published in Peter's Blog

This is my third annual analysis of the pattern of children crossing the Kent and Medway boundaries. You will find the 2014 figures here.  Abbreviation: ooc = out of county

Headlines:
  • 757 ooc children offered places in Kent schools, with 552 Kent children going out county, both figures well up on 2014.
  • 70% of the 455 ooc children taking up places in Kent grammar schools are going to schools in Dartford or Gravesend, with Wilmington Girls Grammar taking 105, Wilmington Boys 79 and Dartford 70. Nearly all are from London Boroughs.
  • Elsewhere, highest are The Judd with 41 ooc boys and Rochester Grammar taking in 41 Kent girls.
  • For non-selective schools, highest is Holmesdale taking in 41 Medway children, followed by Knole Academy with 35 Bromley children, and Homewood School 28, all but one from East Sussex.
  • Exporting: 159 Kent children to Bexley (95 from closure of Oasis Hextable Academy); 139 from Kent to Medway; 121; 100 from Kent to East Sussex; 67 from Kent to Surrey; 53 from Kent to Bromley; and 122 from Medway to Kent,

As in previous years the official figures give a very different picture from the more lurid headlines ……..

Published in News and Comments

This article reports on the full details of the Medway Test for entry to Medway grammar schools in September 2015, and explores the implications of the results.  

To be eligible for  entry to a Medway grammar in September 2015, children had to score an aggregate of 525 in the Medway Test. This comprises age-standardised papers in verbal reasoning, mathematics (score doubled up) and a single piece of English writing (also times two).  So a child scoring 100 in VR, 95 in maths and 119 in English would pass with an aggregate of 528 made up of 100 + 2x95 + 2x119. There is no minimum score in each paper as in Kent.

Headline comments are that:

1)The figures confirm that the fall in numbers of children has bottomed out and rolls are again rising, which will come as a relief to those schools who have suffered from falling rolls in recent years.  An increase of 130 children in the age cohort is a welcome 4% rise from 2013 for the schools most under pressure.  

2) Even so, there is a fall in the number of boys taking the Medway Test, accompanied by a further increase in the proportion of girls to boys both taking the test and also passing, compared with the 2013 figures; see below.

3) There is also a fall in the number of boys being put forward for Review, a total of 36 children out of the 239 put forward being successful. This is only 1.2% of the total cohort, against a target of  2%, or 62 children. According to Medway Council: “The academic evidence supplied did not support a grammar assessment for the maximum 2% of the Medway cohort.” With growing concern over primary school standards in Medway, the inability to find another 26 children whose work is up to a grammar school standard only underlines the problems of literacy and numeracy in those schools.  

4) I have highlighted before the built in prejudice of the Medway Test, showing a discrimination against both boys and younger children.  For 2015 entry, the bias towards older children is similar to that in 2012, the previous time I analysed the figures, with 55% of passes going to children born in the first half of the year, and 45% in the second half of the year, on both occasions. Just 21% of boys in the cohort passed the Test this year, compared with 25% of girls.  

5) Remarkably, every one of the top four schools by percentage pass rate are Catholic Primary Schools, these being the only Medway state schools scoring over 50% grammar school passes. This is in spite of the fact that Catholic  schools are encouraged to support St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive, rather than the grammar schools.

6) The number of children from outside Medway, taking and passing the Medway Test continues to rise inexorably as Kent children hedge their bets by taking both tests, and London families increasingly look to Medway as an alternative, but the reality is that few of the latter actually arrive.

Medway Council is conducting a Review of the Medway Test at present and I would expect these issues to be central to the discussion, although I have raised most of them before with no response from the Council.

In the remainder of this article, I expand on these points, as well as provide the relevant statistics on which the article is based.....

Published in News and Comments
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