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Displaying items by tag: OFSTED

In 2012, Kent County Council, worried about the low performance achieved by our primary schools, laid out its strategy to improve standards in “Delivering Bold Steps for Kent”. This document set as a central policy aim for 2015:“No KCC schools will be in an Ofsted category of concern. There will be more good schools, with at least 85% of primary and secondary schools judged as good or outstanding”. This article explores some of the unintended consequences of that aim.  

Just a year off the target date, OFSTED outcomes for Kent primary schools have actually fallen, compared both to previous performance and also to national norms over the same period. Since September 2013, 16 Kent primary schools have failed their OFSTEDs  out of a total of 103 inspections, three times the national average. There is a fall in the proportion of Good or Outstanding Schools inspected by OFSTED from last year’s dire figures which placed Kent 133rd out of 151 Local Authorities to a new low up to the end of May. In 2012, 61% of Kent’s Primary schools were classified as Good or Outstanding, a figure that the Document described as “clearly unacceptable”. One wonders therefore how the Authority will describe the current shocking figure of 53%, (down again from last year’s 56%) compared to a national average of 59%. 30 of the schools inspected have even seen the grade assessed declining from last time around, with half a dozen of these declining by two grades.

Published in Newspaper Articles

The story so far: In September 2010, Chaucer was still Canterbury’s most popular school, and the year before that I was handling appeals for places at the school. However, because of poor governance, mismanagement and failure to provide proper oversight of the school’s finances it had already started on a downward spiral culminating in OFSTED placing the school in Special Measures in February last year, identifying these as the key issues. By then the school had reduced its Planned Admission number from 235 to 150 with just 57 children entering the school in September 2013, filling only a quarter of the places available and taken up a few years previously. Kent County Council subsequently decided to close the school in February this year after just 26 children placed the school as their first preference, a decision that was unavoidable given all that had gone before.  You will find further details here

 

Chaucer

Following a Public Consultation, whose outcome was inevitable, given that nearly all students in Years 7-9 had been transferred to other schools by Easter, a formal decision to close the school from September 2015 was made on June 4th.

However, OFSTED in its most recent Monitoring Inspection of the school, explicitly and wrongly places the blame for the closure on the decision of The Canterbury Academy to increase its intake by two forms of intake to absorb a massive increase in first choices, soaring from 155 in 2013 to 205, rather than the failures of those responsible  for the school itself, as parents sought to avoid the disaster that was now the Chaucer. This is demonstrated by the dramatic fall in first choices to 26, continuing a sharp decline over several years, finally halving from from 58 the previous year. This has nothing to do directly with Canterbury Academy, except for the latter's far more popular offering. Chaucer is currently run by the Executive Headteacher of the Swale Academies Trust, which originally took it over with the intention of turning it round, but having failed in this task is now closing it down after the current Year 10 students, the only year group left in the school, have taken their GCSEs.  

OFSTED identifies the following consequences .............

Published in Peter's Blog

 There has been much debate since my previous article on the problem of Kent’s disappearing primary headteachers, with Kent County Council arguing that the removal of these headteachers  is a necessary part of school improvement, that the improvement in OFSTED outcomes proves this and that every Kent primary school has someone in charge of it. It appears from the information available that some 40 primary headteachers have lost their posts since September 2012, 21 by formal means, the remainder being "encouraged" to resign.

However, chickens are coming home to roost. There is a sharp increase in the number of primary headship vacancies across Kent, a sharp fall in the number of applicants for each vacancy to an average of 2.33 per post, a quarter of all primary headships are having to be re-advertised, 16 Kent primary schools have failed their OFSTEDs since September, there is a fall in the proportion of Good or Outstanding Schools inspected by OFSTED and more schools are seeing a worse OFSTED outcome this time round. Kent’s Key Stage 2 results for this summer should be interesting!

In 2012, KCC published its key policy document: Bold Steps for Kent”, laying out its key education priorities for the next three years. Its key policy aim for 2015 was:“No KCC schools will be in an Ofsted category of concern. There will be more good schools, with at least 85% of primary and secondary schools judged as good or outstanding”. With standards falling instead as we head towards 2015, KCC is clearly panicking and headteachers are becoming scapegoats, taking us into a spiral of decline.

Published in News and Comments
Monday, 16 June 2014 00:00

Disappearing Kent Headteachers: Part Two

The Kent Messenger has discovered, via a Freedom of Information request, that 21 headteachers of Kent schools were removed from their posts since September 2012. Of these, 15 were told to go due to performance reasons, five on grounds of conduct and one for an issue not disclosed. These will be mainly primary school heads, but would include secondary heads like the head of the North School, Ashford, a KCC run school, who resigned after the school was placed in Special Measures in December. It will not include the additional ones removed from academies, such as Castle Community College in Deal and Molehill Copse Primary in Maidstone. Neither does it include those who “voluntarily” gave up their posts, rather than face the stigma of removal. I hear that in total some 40 heads have given up or “lost” their posts since September 2013. I covered some of these issues in a previous article in April, which may well have sparked the Kent Messenger FOI request.

Please make no mistake; Kent County Council is forced to take action in maintained schools about 'Schools Causing Concern' through Government Statutory Guidance. This government policy is unforgiving and leaves limited room for manoeuvre,  but the evidence presented below suggests that KCC's interpretation of this is not achieving the aims of the document, to 'drive up standards'.  

Published in News and Comments

It is with great personal pride and pleasure that I report that Ifield School in Gravesend has been awarded its second consecutive Outstanding OFSTED, so that the school has now been assessed as 'Outstanding' in  three out of the past four Inspections. Ifield is a Special School serving children with Profound, Severe and Complex Difficulties and severe Communication Difficulties. I was Chairman of Governors for six years, taking over at a time of difficulty for the school but have now retired, although I continue as an Associate Governor, so am well aware of the challenges facing governors today.  

The summary of the Report reads:......

Published in Peter's Blog
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The following is an adaptation of an article appearing in Kent on Sunday this weekend. It is written following the announcement of the closure of Chaucer Technology College in Canterbury subject to Consultation (below), and  also looks at other vulnerable schools, the effect of Free Schools on Kent's maintained school system, and the impact of inward migration in Kent. 

The announcement of the closure of Chaucer Technology School in Canterbury at the end of the summer should have come as no great surprise, given the dramatically falling number of students entering the school over the past few years, and the huge financial deficit allowed to develop. You will find a fuller analysis of the issues here. However, this article looks at the wider pattern of take up of secondary school places across Kent, identifying other schools that are vulnerable. The schools with the highest proportion of vacant places have remained the same over the past few years, leading one to ask how some of these can also remain viable, given that school incomes depend on the number of pupils they attract. Chaucer is the second closure in twelve months, with Walmer Science College being absorbed into Castle Community College last September, because of the falling number of children in the Deal District. I do not anticipate these two schools will be the last.

Concerns have been expressed about the number of young people coming to Kent from other European countries, causing pressure on school places.....

Published in News Archive

The following table shows the miserable performance of Warren Wood Primary School at OFSTED Inspections over the past ten years. It includes FOUR Ofsted failures (three Special Measures, one Requires Improvement), three Inadequate Progress Inspections following Special Measures, just one Satisfactory OFSTED, one Good progress from Special Measures and two Satisfactory Progress Inspections following Special Measures or Requires Improvement. 

Warren Wood Primary School
History of OFSTED Inspections
Category Date
Special Measures June 2004
Good progress since SM Nov 2005
Satisfactory Mar 2006
Requires Improvement  May 2008
Satisfactory progress since RI Jan 2009
Special Measures Jul 2009
Inadequate progress since SM Jan 2010
Inadequate progress since SM May 2010
Inadequate progress since SM
Satisfactory progress since
previous Monitoring Inspection
Sep 2010
Satisfactory  progress since SM
Mar 2011
Satisfactory
Jun 2011
Special Measures 
Dec 2013

 That is a decade of an appalling standard of education offered to pupils of Warren Wood Primary School. However, Medway Council continued to maintain in its most recent responses to my reporting of the disgraceful performance of the Council that: it has nothing to apologise for; it is doing alright (citing the exam performance of the  secondary academies); that its School Improvement Department is excellent, and that any problem is down to the academies (which are mainly secondary schools, so its not!). OFSTED results of Medway Council controlled primary schools  since September are as follows:

Medway Primary School OFSTED Outcomes September 2013 to January 2014 
                                 Outstanding Good
Requires 
Improvement
Inadequate Total
Category
improved
Category
got worse
Number of
Schools
0 7 7 2 16 1 5
% of schools  
0 43 43 13      
% of schools
2012-13
6 34 46 14      

In 2012- 13 Medway Council was the  worst but one Local Authority in the country, on the proportion of Good or Outstanding primary school OFSTED outcomes. For the current school year it appears fractionally better, but in fact is much worse, as five out of six schools that changed their classification have actually got worse, compared to one that became better. 

Also this week has come the news that Napier Primary School, referred to previously, has had a second Monitoring Inspection, the conclusion being: "Evidence indicates the school has not improved quickly enough since the last monitoring inspection in October 2013. You have started to act on the recommendations made at that visit but too little is securely in place" ......

Published in Peter's Blog

Could Tree Tops Academy, a primary school in Maidstone run by the highly controversial Academies Enterprise Trust, be the worst school in England for the period of its existence over the past decade? And is it currently being run by the worst Academy Group chain? (although there is plenty of competition for both titles!).

 Tree Tops Academy 1

It has now: failed four OFSTED Inspections in ten years including the most recent one in December; seen Monitoring Inspections record damning verdicts; come fourth lowest in the country in last summer’s Key Stage Two assessments; and been issued with a pre-warning letter by the Department for Education in November, warning that standards are low and likely to remain low. The letter makes clear who is responsible: It records “Financial issues have prevented the Principal from ensuring staff have the right resources to support their teaching. The sponsor has not acted to provide resources even temporarily to resolve this issue”.

UPDATE - 4th February

Molehill Copse Primary School

Molehill Copse Primary School, Federated with Tree Tops Academy, referred to below as one of just 36 primary schools in the country to receive a Pre Warning letter from the the Secretary of State for Education, who considered that "the standards of performance at Molehill Copse Primary School are unacceptably low and are likely to remain so". The letter was sent on 16th September 2013 and recorded the very low standards reached. The letter concluded that "the school is at risk of being judged as inadequate at its next inspection if teaching and pupils' progress do not improve significantly". Nearly three months later, on 3rd December, the school was inspected again, the Report, published today  failing it on grounds of Serious Weaknesses. The Report does note there have been some improvements recently, and it appears that since the Pre-Warning letter,  AET has belatedly realised it does need to do something about the school and has put in a new Management Board to bring about improvement. This is the third OFSTED failure for Molehill Copse, previously in 2006 and 2010, but it escaped with a "Satisfactory" Grade in January 2012, just in time to be taken over by AET, under whose leadership it has clearly sunk again. 

 Academies Enterprise Trust (slogan: to make our best better) is one of the largest academy groups in the country, and is running 10 of the 36 academies which have been sent pre-warning letters from the DfE warning about low standards, along with Marlowe Academy in Ramsgate which it was effectively running at the time of the letter (see below).......

Published in News and Comments
Tagged under
Friday, 03 January 2014 08:00

Chatham Grammar School for Boys:Update

Since my previous article on the fate of Chatham Grammar following its failed OFSTED back in June, only the second grammar school in England to be placed in Special Measures, there have been dramatic and controversial changes at the school. A monitoring Inspection by OFSTED in October clearly approved of developments, one Facebook page run by parents tells a very different story, but a second one apparently run by responsible students tells another. Newsletters published by the school describe some of the factual changes, and I have also been kept informed by worried parents and prospective parents providing me with information and seeking advice.

The OFSTED Report and school information show that the governance of the school has passed to the RGS/AFS Thinking Schools Trust

Published in Peter's Blog

This week, OFSTED has published its Annual Report on school performance, and the Department of Education has published its SAT Key Stage 2 results for schools across the country. For Kent and Medway, both brought dismal reading for parents. In the OFSTED league table, Medway ended up 151st out of 152 Local authorities.  Kent was 133rd, a little better, but nowhere near good enough.

In Key Stage 2 SAT results, Medway came seventh from bottom in the country, with 71% of pupils achieving Level 4 in Reading, Writing and Maths, a slight increase on 2012 when Medway came jjk bottom nationally. Kent continues its fairly consistent position of being just below the National Average.

These appalling results, especially for Medway, contrast sharply with the secondary experience.  Here, Medway came an impressive 27th in the national table of OFSTED outcomes and Kent 54th in 2012, both being success stories. At GCSE both Kent and Medway are well above the national average.

These pose the key question:.....

Published in Newspaper Articles
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