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Displaying items by tag: Medway Grammar Schools

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

This has been a particularly busy admission season for me, primarily because the change in structure and scoring pattern of the Kent Test have considerably increased uncertainty about chances of access to super selective schools and appeal success to grammar schools across the county. My news item on the Kent Test saw the fastest rate of hits ever on the website, totalling 7000 in just over a week. The article on the Medway Test, with about a sixth the number of applicants has already attracted over 3000 visitors.

The other major factor has been the urban myth and misinformation circulating amongst parents, too often driven by some primary headteachers trying to be helpful and some secondary headteachers keen to encourage numbers.

I have covered most of the comment and information below in previous news and information items on this website, but now that most  Secondary School Common Application Forms (SCAF) have been submitted, I have time to reflect. Kent parents will know that exceptionally, KCC has extended the closing date to 5th November (nationally it was 31st October) to give parents good time to consult schools after the Kent Tests results were sent out, allowing for half-term in between.

I hear many good reports about the advice freely given by KCC School Admissions, and know that, as always, the Department has been massively overworked. However, they are not allowed to comment about individual schools as I am. Medway Council also runs an advice service. 

I explore these issues and a variety of others below......

Published in News and Comments

OFSTED has provided Chatham Grammar School for Boys with some excellent news just a week before the closing date for secondary school applications, by classifying the school as "Good" just fifteen months after failing it by placing the school into Special Measures. The school is the only secondary school in Kent or Medway over at least the past two years to achieve an improvement of two categories. You can read the full Report here, and my most recent previous article on the school here

Chatham Boys

This remarkable turn around will be a great relief to all those students and families who have shown faith in the school, and a matter of congratulation to all those staff and leaders who have contributed  to this exceptional performance. The school was a good school and is now again one in which families can have confidence. 

Published in Peter's Blog

Updated 19 November with Out of Medway Results 

I now have the main results of the Medway Review process, which you will find in the table below, along with the previous data from automatic passes.  These produce four main conclusions:

1)   the number of girls who were successful at Review is nearly twice the number of boys ( last year girls were MORE than twice as successful as boys). 

2)    parents of girls were nearly twice as likely to apply for a Review as parents of boys;

3)   Very few out of Medway Review requests were successful;

4)   For Medway children, both the automatic pass rate, at 23.2% and the Review pass rate at 2.0% of the total number of children in the age group are very close to the targets of 23.0% and 2.0%. 

I have previously considered the data for the automatic pass figures here, and you can compare the data with the 2012 test figures here. I have also looked at reasons for the underperformance of boys here, but can now add to these a possible lack of confidence by parents of boys in pursuing grammar school places in Medway...........

Published in News and Comments

042 

I have updated this item with a report on my blog, of a Parents Forum for the school held last week to discuss the Report and map out the future prospects of the school. 

Chatham Grammar School for Boys has failed Its OFSTED Inspection carried out last June and been placed in the lowest category - Special Measures. In one sense It has been unfortunate, as the school failed only one category: "Leadership and Management", although the  other three: achievement, teaching, and behaviour of pupils all "require improvement". This is only the second grammar school in England  to fail an OFSTED (Stretford grammar being the first in 2009), although the school has achieved some of its strongest exam results ever this summer.    The first and most significant casualty is David Marshall, who has been headteacher for nineteen years, but who has retired with immediate effect. He is replaced by Ms Denise Shepherd as Executive Headteacher, with Mr Stuart Gardner, as Interim Principal. A letter on the school website explains this. In one sense, whilst shocked, I am not surprised at the failure, both from The Rochester Grammar School (girls). A previous OFSTED Report in 2012 found the school 'satisfactory', but identified weaknesses in English, and in teaching, learning and achievement in some areas. Mathematics and science are seen as strengths of the school. OFSTED also specified areas where improvement was required. According to the new Report, these do not appear to have been addressed, so the school had to fail.    A great strength of the school for many  years has been Its strong sense of community and a phone in on Radio Kent today bore tribute to that, with many parents so supportive and proud of the school and bewildered at what has happened. Sadly, there is no recognition of this quality in the Report, although inspectors are required to take note of 'Parent View' a section on the OFSTED website where this shines through strongly. There was also concern for the future as the new leadership Is seen as coming from a school whose ethos does not sit well with the 'Chatham way'. We must hope they see a way to blend the best of both cultures.

Published in News Archive

I have uncovered shocking statistics relating to the Medway Test for grammar school admission that show it both discriminates sharply against boys, as compared with girls, and also against younger children as against those born in the first half of the school year. Surely neither of these levels of discrimination should be acceptable to Medway Council or the families of the children so disadvantaged, especially younger boys who get caught both ways. ......

Published in News and Comments
Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00

Chatham Grammar Schools and the Kent Test

The introduction of the Kent Test by the two Chatham grammar schools as an alternative assessment to the Medway Test has caused considerable confusion to Medway Council. Success in the Kent Test is now a recognised qualification for entry to the two schools, so children who have taken the Kent test but not passed have the right to put in a late application to the appropriate Chatham grammar school. They would then be turned down on grounds of non-qualification and can then appeal directly to the school. As there are still spaces at both schools, if parents can provide appropriate evidence that their children are of grammar school standard, they stand a good chance of winning an appeal and therefore a place.

However, Medway Council officials have failed to understand the rules......

Published in News Archive
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