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Displaying items by tag: medway - Kent Independent Education Advice

This article is being updated as fresh information is received. You will find the parallel article on Kent here.

This is a fairly brief article on secondary transfer, as Medway Council is rather grudging in its release of information this year, possibly because the number of Medway children getting their first choice school has fallen sharply from 86.0% in 2013 (similar to previous years) to 81.2% for 2014 entry - claimed by Medway Council to be nearly 82% (more problems with arithmetic!).  For 2013 admission the number of children allocated a school place by Medway Council (i.e. offered none of their choices) more than doubled over previous years to 3.2%; this year it has worsened further, increasing to over 4%.  I also take the opportunity to look at the recently published Chatham Grammar School for Boys OFSTED Monitoring Inspection. The Medway press release in full reads:......

Published in News and Comments

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

The DfE GCSE/KS4 Performance tables for Kent and Medway  give a wide range of statistics about schools in Kent and Medway which, combined with OFSTED reports, provide a very good understanding of their nature. The tables often show schools coming to the fore or disappointing, that are different to public perception. This is usually fairly accurate, as shown by popularity, but often lags a year or two behind the reality.  For example, there is a case, as explained below, for The John Wallis Church of England Academy in Ashford to be regarded as the top school in Kent, for its students make the best progress between the ages of 11 and 16, no matter where their starting point. Other contenders are The Judd School, The Rochester Grammar School, and Bennett Memorial Diocesan School. 

This article should be read in conjunction with my previous one, which gave the headline figures.  

The tables also reveal, quite logically, a strong link between schools where there is persistent absence by students, and poor performance in examinations, a link far stronger than the number of Free School Meals.  

The sections below only cover a selection of the measures used by the Department for Education to measure schools, but in my view some of the most important ones.....

Published in News and Comments
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


Both Kent and Medway are at the bottom of the OFSTED national league table of Primary School Inspection outcomes, published in today's OFSTED Annual Report on Schools

Out of 152 Local Authorities in the country, Kent came 133rd and Medway 151st. At Secondary level,  Medway came an impressive 27th and Kent came 54th. 

The Cabinet Member for Medway in an interview with Radio Kent this morning is still unable to accept there is a massive problem in Medway and found nothing wrong with Medway's position in the primary table or in the quality of education provided. Indeed he began by claiming that any problem lay with the previous Labour government. He went on to suggest that what problems there were had been solved by getting rid of the previous senior management education team in the Council. My earlier article, below, also looks at the situation in both Kent and Medway since the summer, showing that the situation in Medway has, if anything, got worse. Of course, Medway primary schools were the absolute bottom Local Authority in the country in the most recent published SAT Key Stage two results for the summer of 2012, having been in the bottom five in the previous two years. 

In my article, I forecast that Medway would also be absolute bottom in the country for OFSTED outcomes, but they have been saved by a slight change in the statistics methodology, calculating by the number of children in each Authority rather than the number of schools! However, one place from the bottom is hardly an improvement........

Published in News and Comments
Friday, 13 September 2013 20:09

Medway OFSTED letter: cause for concern

Medway Council has received a letter from OFSTED reporting back on its series of focused Inspections, accompanied by a survey of schools, last June. Whilst there are many positive comments there are, as I expected and forecast, areas of major concern exacerbated once again by Medway Council's refusal to acknowledge the reality.

First, the main positive: Medway Council's support for its primary schools is highly praised by the schools themselves and the letter cites many ways in which that support is delivered. However, this is balanced by the poor performance of those same primary schools in OFSTED inspections, so one has to ask how effective it has been. This may be summarised by a sentence in the letter that reads: "Medway’s drive to raise achievement is acknowledged by schools, but many headteachers and governors cannot readily articulate the local authority’s vision or strategy for improvement". 

Unfortunately, and confusingly, the OFSTED summary figures provided combine primary and secondary, academy and Medway maintained school outcomes, enabling Medway Council to blur the conclusion. The following table spells out the reality:

Medway School & Academy
OFSTEDs Sep 2012 - July 2013
 
  Outstanding Good
Requires
Improvement
Inadequate
% Outstanding
or Good
Medway
Primary
 2  11  15  5 39%
Primary
Academy
 0  1 0  0 100%
Medway
Secondary
 0  1  0  0 100%
Secondary
Academy
 0  3  1  1 60%
Total  2  17 17 6 45%
Total %   5%  40%  40%  14%  

Shockingly and astonishingly, both the BBC website  and Kent Online report that the main response from Medway Council is a statement from the Cabinet Member for Education in Medway, offering as an excuse that Medway is not responsible for its academies, so he is planning to seek clarification of who is responsible for standards at the academies from the Department for Education. How fortunate for the council that Chatham Grammar School for Boys, an academy, was the one school to fail its OFSTED on this occasion and so can be used as a helpful scapegoat (see below)! All this in a year when primary schools run by Medway Council achieved just 39% 'Good' or  'Outstanding' assessments, a figure which is  worse than than the lowest performing Local Authority in the country last year at 42% and well below even last year's figure of 54% when Medway was the ninth worst performing Local Authority in the country. What is crystal clear from the statistics is that in Medway, as distinct from many other Local Authorities, it is the academies which have saved it from an even worse disaster so it is bizarre to imply that the problem is with the academies just because one has failed. 

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

As explained below, and as expected, OFSTED has carried out an in depth inspection of the Authority, backed up by 10 school inspections following Medway’s appalling primary school OFSTED and KS2 record,.

Results  of eight of these inspections have been released today, of which six are primary schools.

Of the six just one, All Faith’s Children’s Community School, has been classified as good, the other five: Fairview Community Primary School, Napier Community Primary School, Stoke Community School, Walderslade Primary School and Thames View Primary School all being found to require improvement.

All Faith’s is and has been an academy for the past year so Medway Council can hardly claim responsibility for its performance although it appears to be trying to. Not one of the six has improved its OFSTED Grade and Fairview has in fact declined from its previous “good” assessment. Medway’s press release (below) astonishingly regards this as a good outcome.

BBC South East covered this item, on SE News last night, available on i-player today (Friday). 

The facts: In December, OFSTED published its annual report for 2011-12, showing that Medway came 9th from the bottom in the whole country for OFSTED performance in its primary schools, with only 54% of its primary school inspections being Good or Outstanding, with Kent 10th from bottom at 55%. I have kept records of OFSTED Reports for both Medway and Kent for 2012-13 to date, and these reveal that of Medway’s 34 published OFSTED Reports since September, just 14, or 41%, are now good or outstanding, a sharp further fall on the previous year’s appalling performance.  If these figures had been for last year, Medway would have been placed botttom Local Authority in the whole country. OFSTED, in its explanation as to why it was Inspecting Medway made clear the reason was the poor performance of Medway primary schools in OFSTED inspections, with the latest results for each school shoiwng a total of fewer than two out of five were good or outstanding (consistent with my figures for the past year). By contrast, Kent, which publicly recognised its deficiencies, has seen its percentage of good or outstanding schools rise to 59%. Medway came bottom of the whole country in KS2 performance......

Published in News and Comments

MEDWAY Council is breaching transparency laws, the Messenger can reveal, with hundreds of queries for information taking more than a month.

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act was hailed as opening up local government to public scrutiny when it launched in 2005. Anyone is entitled to get information for free within 20 working days.

 But 48% of FOI replies by Medway Council last year broke that time barrier. The transparency watchdog, the Information Commissioner, is now examining the situation after contact from the Messenger. Information Commissioner spokesman Greg Jones said: “We monitor the worst performing authorities on time limits. The trigger is if they respond to fewer than 85% of FOI requests on time.” Medway’s rate is 52%. Schools expert Peter Read has battled to reveal important stories using FOI. He said the council often escaped scrutiny because facts were “old news” by the time they emerged.

 “I’ve only made one Information Commissioner complaint because frankly you lose the will to live,” he added. “I got the final result two weeks ago after 18 months. I’m appalled, but it’s totally what I expect.” Even the Messenger’s first request for today’s figures took 104 working days, despite the response being a standard two page rejection letter. That challenges the council’s claim that its longest reply has taken 49 working days. Councillor Tristan Osborne (Labour) has protested to council leader Rodney Chambers (Conservative). Mr Osborne wrote: “It is right in a democracy that power be scrutinised, irrespective of who controls the executive.”

 The ruling Conservative group says short-staffed bosses will “raise awareness” of the importance of FOI in a bid to boost responses.

A spokesman said: “This surge in demand, and the complexity of some enquiries, can and does make it difficult to always meet the 20-day deadline. “Research shows each FOI request costs on average £293, which currently equates to more than £200,000 a year for Medway. “Decreases in government funding make it difficult to find the resources to meet the growing FOI demand we are seeing.”

 FOI law has helped the Messenger expose jawdropping stories at Medway Council and beyond. We resorted to FOI after the council failed to detail a mysterious £350,000 cost of closing two schools. It transpired that the money had gone to a private firm simply to cancel a photocopier hire contract.

Published in Newspaper Articles
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