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Displaying items by tag: medway

The Medway secondary school offers of places in September that went out to families on 1st March filled every non-selective school (and four of the six grammar schools). Sufficient places for Medway children were only (and almost) created by eight of the 13 schools offering an additional 178 places above their Planned Admission Numbers between them. However, some of these families will also have applied to the new Maritime Academy, offering 180 places and due to open in temporary buildings that is hardly likely to be a selling point, because it is not part of the co-ordinated admissions scheme. Families taking up Maritime places will therefore free up others elsewhere. Meanwhile, the proportion of Medway children awarded their first choice school is the highest since 2016, a fact strangely omitted from the Council’s minimalist press release (see updated article).

Brompton Academy

The biggest individual school news is that Brompton Academy saw a record 273 first choices turned down, with Sir Thomas Aveling’s popularity is also soaring, with 143 disappointed first choices.

I look at the admissions story in more detail below, together with the likely effects of the Maritime Academy opening.

Published in News and Comments

Update July 2022: Medway Grammar Co-Ed Plans Update: Mainly More False Claims. 

One of the great disappointments of my 15 years of campaigning about the many deficiencies and incompetences of Medway Council is that I have completely failed to achieve any progress in seeing the Medway grammar school selection process made fit for purpose. This was the subject of one of my earliest articles in 2009 and continued through to the latest on 2022 admissions. I did however stop a wholly unnecessary increase in girls’ grammar school places by the Thinking Schools Academies Trust at the expense of the shrinking further the limited number of boys’ places (ironically considering the latest proposal). I also blocked several attempts by local Academy Trusts to change their admission criteria to suit themselves rather than Medway children and won a number of complaints to the Information Commissioner about the incompetence of the Council and its Councillors. 

Medway

You will find below a quick gallop through some of the 60 plus items I have written about Medway schools, focusing on Council and academy trust matters, to complement my earlier Review of Seventeen Years of Support for Families.

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New Query: Why has the New Horizons Teaching School Alliance website been closed, along with the item on the TSAT website relating to Teacher Training. Can anyone help? In my own view, the article below sets out good reasons why the whole thing should be scrapped before any more potential teachers are disillusioned.  

The Gordon School Children’s Academy in Strood saw 15 of its 25 teachers leave last year, part of a list I have of over 50 names departing in the past four years.  I have been sent several sets of grievances from different staff which add up to a consistent pattern and may go to explain these startling facts but, without corroborating evidence, it is inappropriate to quote these. The astonishing turnover of headteachers at the school, with seven in seven years, is also indicative of the pressures under which they are placed to deliver results. However, the enclosed letter sent to all teachers earlier this year is indicative of the style. The use of non-disclosure agreements for some Gordon managerial staff who have left the school has not been helpful with regard to this article. The turnover of other staff, especially Teaching Assistants is also very large. The pattern of demanding ever higher standards across the Trust's Medway schools appears common, whatever the cost to teachers and their careers or, in the case of the grammar schools of pupils who may struggle, and through the selection procedures. The high turnover of headteachers is also common in at least three other TSAT schools.  

The headteacher of Gordon, Mrs Murphy, is in her second year at the school, having transferred from the New Horizons Children’s Academy where she was succeeded by her husband. She may not remain there as she is also Principal of the new Maritime Academy, also in Strood, opening next September, although I am not aware of her secondary school background. In the meantime, New Horizons Children's Academy also appears troubled, with 11 of its 24 teachers (two part-time) having left last year. I am concerned about a detailed allegation I have received about SAT performance there, but again have no verification.  

Unsurprisingly the popularity of both schools is falling, Gordon having over a quarter of its places unfilled on allocation in May this year. New Horizons which opened in 2014 had been heavily oversubscribed for some years but had 16% empty places on allocation for this year.

Concerned staff have now been blocked from talking with me, with the Trust taking disciplinary action against at least one member, despite their having had no contact whatever with me.

So what is going wrong at the Thinking Schools Academy Trust?

Published in News and Comments
Sunday, 02 February 2020 17:41

Medway Schools A Level Performance 2019

 This article looks at A Level outcomes for Medway schools in the summer of 2019, following the release of performance data last week; you will find an equivalent article for Kent schools here.  Medway schools perform slightly lower than the national outcomes in Attainment; summary data for Progress from GCSE to A Level not available.

In terms of Progress Grades, there are no schools that have performed at an Above Average Level; in 2018 there was one. There are six schools with Average Progress: Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School; Rainham Mark Grammar; Brompton Academy: St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive; Rainham School for Girls; and Walderslade Girls School. Every other school has below average progress.   

 Two grammar schools, Rochester Grammar and Rochester Maths have performed highly in the A Level attainment categories as usual. Highest attainment amongst the non-selective schools are again Thomas Aveling and Rainham Girls.

Chatham Grammar (previously called Chatham Grammar School for Girls) appears to have had a disaster on all counts, see tables below.

Also noteworthy is the very high fallout rate at three of the six grammar schools between Years 11 and Year 12, and for Holcombe Grammar from 12 to 13 for the third year running, which suggests illegal off-rolling to inflate performance. 

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Friday, 07 February 2020 14:18

Medway Final GCSE Outcomes for 2019

Final GCSE Results for Medway schools published last week confirm the provisional results released in November. This article is a minor revision of the November original as I have found no significant variations in outcome. The key measure of GCSE Performance is Progress 8 (full table here) .Under this measure Medway is slightly above the National Average of -0.03; at +0.03. There was just one school, Robert Napier, Well Below Average  although the results of Medway UTC (Well Below Average in 2018) have been suppressed for unexplained reasons. Attainment 8 (full table here) has Medway exactly the same as the National score of 46.5 with Robert Napier firmly at the foot of the table, although again Medway UTC has results suppressed and is now the Waterfront UTC.

Overall, positions in the full performance tables below are very similar to 2018, with for grammar schools, Rochester being at the head and Holcombe the foot of both tables again. Rainham School for Girls and Thomas Aveling have topped both tables for non-selective schools each year . 

You will find performance tables including outcomes of the English Baccalaureate and  the proportion of pupils gaining Level Five or better in English and maths together with analysis below.

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Wednesday, 09 October 2019 12:34

Medway Test 2019: Initial results and analysis

Note: This article contains important advice which may assist those considering requesting a Review. You will find a more detailed analysis of Medway Test outcomes and the Review process here.  The parallel Kent Test article is here

The pass mark for the Medway Test for 2020 admission is an aggregate score of 490, selecting a total of 23% of Medway children, according to target. You will find an information article on Review and Appeal here. Data for individual Medway schools, including oversubscription levels and appeal outcomes are published here.

Whilst 808 Medway pupils passed the test, 35 more than in 2018, the number of out of county children (OOC) passing has continued its inexorable rise to 980. There will be far fewer girls' places available for OOCs at Rochester Grammar as explained below, but an overall surplus for local girls and probably OOCs across the area. By contrast the intense pressure on places for boys in Medway grammar schools is increasing because of the continued machinations of Holcombe Grammar, as explained below, with just one successful appeal out of 53 in 2019 as the school attempts to raise its academic entry profile by chasing higher performing London boys instead of those from Medway. The farce of the Review process will probably continue, with 2018 seeing 0.12% of the Medway cohort or just 4 out of the 202 applications for Review successful, with none from outside Medway or at private schools, against a target of 2%.  Of course this could change for 2019!   

Shockingly, Medway Council introduced a ban on late Testing last year when it was unlawful. Therefore, children moving into the area who miss the admission deadline cannot qualify for a grammar school place. 

Published in News and Comments

Some children of families who are amongst the many re-locating to Medway,  and local children who are late developers, may be denied  grammar school places this year as there is no facility to sit the Medway Test late, contrary to previous practice.  This is because the Council quietly changed its selection procedures last year so that only children who are registered at the correct time can ever sit the Medway Test, which takes place in September.

Medway

Late applicants are therefore effectively barred from being considered for Medway grammar school places which require a Medway Test outcome for admission (the two Chatham grammars have a secondary route via the Kent Test). Most grammar schools have not made arrangements to put an alternative form of testing in place for admission this September, the combination being contrary to Medway's own co-ordinated scheme for secondary admissions.    

 The consequences of this decision by Medway Council are wide ranging and may well spell the end of the Medway Test as an objective standard for grammar school entry in Medway, with each grammar school defining the standard and setting its own test for entry, as explored further below.  The last time I collected data for late sitters of the Medway Test was for admission in September 2017, when there were 80, 53 from within Medway, 27 from outside, including 16 applicants from the London Boroughs, of whom 47 were successful.  

Also, the Council has also been acting unlawfully for years in putting conditions on late admissions to other Medway schools, although these appear to have been withdrawn from 2020/21.

Published in News and Comments

Medway Council continues to show contempt for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), after being forced to provide information exactly one year and five months after my initial request, and 43 minutes before the end of a final 35 day deadline the Commissioner set for delivery by 25th September 2018.

The information the council eventually yielded followed a request for data on Elective Home Education (EHE) and Exclusions in Medway schools for 2015-16. Given the extraordinarily high rates of both, these should surely indicate concerns the Council would wish to expose, rather than cover up. The time that elapsed included many months of the Council failing to respond to me at all, of inadequate and much delayed Internal Reviews, of false claims about the nature of the information and a meeting with the Council back in June 2018 arranged by the ICO. At the meeting I was promised full co-operation then and in the future, in the first instance to deliver the required information promptly, a promise which the Council then completely ignored.

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Saturday, 05 May 2018 11:25

Medway UTC: Abject Failure -OFSTED

Further Update 2nd July: for anyone who thinks the concept of UTCs is still viable, try the latest UTC Ofsted failure and the latest closure (will Medway be much longer??)

Further update sentence in blue below.

Updated: Tuesday 8th May. See important comment below by Ita Caufield.

Ofsted has judged the new Medway University Technical College to have failed its Inspection on every count, some of its main criticisms being levelled at the members of the Governing Body who 'abrogated their responsibility'. Medway UTC is one of a new breed of 14-19 schools dropped in on existing school systems without thought for their impact elsewhere, with a horrendous record of success including five of the 26 inspected by Ofsted being placed in Special Measures. A further eight have closed through failure to attract students. The evidence below shows that Medway UTC is surely en route to be the eighth.

The Medway UTC opened in September 2015 in £12 million purpose built premises, sponsored by local businesses, Higher Education Institutions and Medway Council.

Medway UTC

Ofsted found that: there is a culture of low expectation across the UTC; current progress in all year groups very weak; poor GCSE and A Level results last year as a result of weak teaching; the curriculum is too narrow; there is no provision for physical education or religious education in the school; behaviour in lessons is poor and sometimes disruptive. These are the consequences of: governors failing to offer sufficient challenge for leaders or training for leaders and teachers to carry out their duties effectively; of significant turbulence in staffing; leaders development plans being not fit for purpose; and failure by teachers to match assessment to the learning needs of pupils with the result that the most able, those with SEN, and the disadvantaged make very poor progress.

I have never seen or read anything like the torrent of criticism heaped upon the quality of teaching in the school, as exemplified below. Frankly one would not expect such negative comments to be uttered about untrained instructors dropped in for their first term in a school. Academies and UTCs are not required to employ qualified teachers, and this report suggests they may have taken advantage of this loophole in full. I am astonished that Ofsted did not report on the issue, given there appears a complete breakdown in quality, with no redeeming factors identified.

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Wednesday, 04 April 2018 10:23

Medway Non Selective Secondary Allocations 2018

Note: This article includes the out of county information I have now received from Medway Council. This is much more significant for grammar schools, and I have also now incorporated this into my Medway Grammar School article.  

76% of children offered places in Medway’s eleven secondary schools on allocation in March were given their first choice school. All but 55 of the 1645 non-selective secondary school places available were filled a vacancy rate of just 3.3%, nearly all in two schools, St John Fisher Catholic and Hundred of Hoo Academy. This takes into account the net 30 places taken out of two schools since the 2017 allocations.

Brompton Academy

The most oversubscribed school was, as it has been for many years, Brompton Academy, turning away 193 first preferences or 47% of the total, the second highest figure across both Kent and Medway. Just four more of the eleven non-selective schools turned away children who put them first: Thomas Aveling school – 70; Strood Academy – 35; Rainham Girls – 17; and Howard School 15.

136 Medway children received no school of their choice and were allocated places in local schools (Local Authority Allocations or LAA) by Medway Council, 58 at St John Fisher Catholic and 41 at Victory Academy.

Further details below.

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