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Peter Read - Kent Independent Education Advice

Peter Read

The Kent Catholic Schools Partnership, an Academy Trust which runs 19 Roman Catholic primary schools, has instructed all these schools not to provide facilities for their children to sit the Kent Test in their own school. This means that those children will be disadvantaged by not taking the Test in familiar surroundings like other Kent children, and will have to travel to another venue arranged by KCC which could be miles away from their homes. This move to sectarianism would appear to be just bloody-minded to many. For the Catholic Church as a whole is clearly not against academic selection, with three Catholic grammar schools in other parts of the country and a strong commitment to provide many private Catholic academically selective schools for those Catholics and others who are wealthy enough to pay, both in Kent and elsewhere in the country. These two categories are also operating in clear contradiction of ‘the church’s social teachings’ as set out  below.
 
 KCSP Logo
However, as the following analysis shows, the only children this decision will actually affect are those who are frightened off from taking the test because of social disadvantage or lacking the confidence to take on the church, or else fail the Kent Test solely because they have been disadvantaged by taking it in unfamiliar surroundings. How proud the Catholic Church must be.
Thursday, 14 November 2019 05:26

Kent and Medway School Exclusions 2018-19

 'Teacher capacity and skill is (sic) the best antidote there is to exclusion of students'.
Folkestone Academy
 The same five secondary schools feature in the top seven fixed term excluders in every one of the last three years. Folkestone Academy, Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey and Hartsdown Academy are high profile schools in trouble and entirely predictable. Astor College, Dover, has also struggled, the fifth being John Wallis CofE Academy, Ashford. For primary schools there are just two schools to feature over this period, Richmond Academy and Martello Primary. You will find full lists and more details of the top excluding schools below.
 
There were just 43 permanent exclusions in Kent in 2018-19, spread across 31 schools, down again from last year’s record low. In Medway there were 36.  The only school expelling five or more students last year was Robert Napier in Gillingham, which features annually in this very short list, with ten pupils thrown out in 2018-19 (also fifth in Kent and Medway for fixed term exclusions).
 
Kent has had a very low rate of permanent exclusions since 2012-13, fifth lowest in England last year, with Medway consistently above the national average over the same period. Kent has also been below the national average for fixed term exclusions 2016-18, with Medway well above since at least 2009-10; see below. For Kent secondary schools, fixed term exclusions are up by 11% since the year before, whereas for primary schools it has fallen by 5%. 
Headlines:
The central headline of the year's Primary School Ofsted outcomes is that academies are considerably outperforming Local Authority schools,showing much stronger improvement. 
 
Overall, Kent and Medway schools inspected by Ofsted outperformed last year’s national level of 83% Good or Outstanding, aided by a strong performance from academies.
In Kent 19 of the 94 schools inspected have improved their grading, against just six that have declined; whilst in Medway five of the 22 have improved, and none deteriorated, the best performance for years.
19 of 24 schools that improved their category were academies, most having converted since their previous inspection.
 
This article focuses on Ofsted reports since March when I  published a half year report, since when there are two new Outstanding schools in addition to those listed in the previous article: Hawkinge Primary in Folkestone and Shatterlocks Infant in Dover (academy) schools.
Hawkinge 2      Shatterlocks
 
Five schools have improved their performance by two levels from Special Measures to Good after academisation: Barming, Maidstone; Brenzett CofE, Romney Marsh; St Edward’s Catholic, Isle of Sheppey; St Nicholas CofE, New Romney; Westgate, Dartford.
 
I look below at all the key outcomes across Kent and Medway. 
Saturday, 02 November 2019 09:50

Medway Review 2019 and the Medway Test.

I have now received more data relating to the Medway Test with its pass level of an aggregation of 495 marks across the three tests, following on from my initial article here.

It is clear that the Review process has once again failed Medway children with a total of 0.43% of children having Reviews upheld, against a target of 2.0% of the cohort. As a result, 45 children missed out  of being found of grammar school ability this year because of failure by the Medway process. The rules then state that such children cannot be considered at appeal unless they can show the process to be flawed! Of the 15 successful reviews for Medway children out of 147 submitted, 11 were from girls, over half of these being born in the first quarter of the year. Some might argue that the underlying reason for the very low success rate at Review is poor work produced by Medway primary schools, although it could of course be simply the annual  failure of Review Panels to follow the procedure! 

22.2% of boys and 24.1 % of girls in Year Six of Medway schools passed the Medway Test, meeting the overall target of 23.0%. Whilst this confirms the annual bias in favour of girls as demonstrated below, the gap is slightly lower since the introduction of the CEM selection Test in 2017. The Council has attempted to save money by banning late testing since 2018, which is unlawful as explained here, Year Six children moving into Medway late are therfore denied the opportunity to go to grammar school. 

There were 921 Out of County (OOC) successes in the Medway Test. Nearly half of these came from Kent. Many will be looking for places at Holcombe and Chatham Girls grammar schools as second or lower choices to schools nearer their homes. Last year just 246 OOCs were allocated Medway places out of 844 grammar qualified, many of whom would have subsequently dropped out after gaining more suitable places nearer home. 

Note: This is an update to a previous article, now deleted

At long last it looks as if the second part of the Sevenoaks grammar school annexe buildings will be built and occupied as originally planned, in response to a growing shortage of grammar school places in West Kent. A consultation document on the development of a separate annexe has now been published, which appears to provide a fairly straightforward progress to completion in 2021 for 90 boys in Year Seven, following approval of the girls’ annexe three years ago.

This will be an important increase in selective education places for West Kent. At present, grammar school qualified boys from the north of the District, who are not eligible for the super selective Judd and Skinners schools, have to travel up to 22 miles to TWGSB which is bursting at the seams as it keeps having to expand to meet local need.

Additional grammar school places are certainly needed to meet the increasing number of Kent children being assessed as selective due to a growing population. There is a forecast deficit of 242 places for boys and girls jointly by 2022-23 (see below). I have explored the non selective place issues several times previously, for example here.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019 04:18

Medway Provisional GCSE Outcomes for 2019

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 with just one school Well Below Average (Robert Napier), 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 on 32.3, 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.

Saturday, 19 October 2019 07:47

Kent Provisional GCSE Outcomes 2019

Update: You will find the KCC version here, although I make it 46 Kent schools with at least the National Average for Progress 8, whilst KCC has 44.  

GCSE Results for Kent published last week show that Kent schools were below the National Average of -0.03 in the governments key measure Progress 8 at -0.11. However, they were ahead in Attainment 8 at 47.2 against the national figure of 46.6, as explained below. The table is finalised in January, allowing for various adjustments. 

Girls’ schools make a clean sweep the top eight places in the Progress 8 table, the government’s key measure of performance, with Bennett Memorial Diocesan and seven grammar schools. Highworth shows the greatest consistency being second for the past two years.

highworth Grammar      Bennett Memorial 3

 

Bennett continues to dominate both non-selective tables, ahead of 28 grammar schools in Progress 8, followed as usual by St Simon Stock, and in the past three years Meopham. The only new non-selective school arriving in the list of best performers is the previously struggling Cornwallis Academy. Biggest turnaround is by Holmesdale (see below).

Borden Grammar is by some way the lowest performing grammar school at Progress 8, being Below Average, and also at the foot of the Attainment 8 table. Worryingly, there are 20 non-selective schools Well Below Average and below the government’s Floor Level of -0.50, up from 15 in 2018. At the foot of both tables comes Hartsdown Academy, lowest performing Attainment 8 and fourth lowest school at Progress 8 in the country. The 20 schools below Floor Level include many regularly low performers, but also now: Thamesview; Archbishops; Fulston Manor; Hayesbrook; Hugh Christie; and St Augustines. 

Who could not have got it more wrong when he said on his school website: 'We are celebrating our best ever year for results at GCSE in Year 11''? Answer below. 

You will find performance tables and further information and analysis below.

Thursday, 17 October 2019 06:00

Kent Test 2019; Initial Results and Comment

Kent Test results have been published with the pass mark somewhat higher than last year. This is no reflection on the difficulty of the Test as the pass marks will have been set as always to identify 21% of Kent children to be automatically selected. This year an automatic pass has been awarded to candidates scoring 110 on each of the three sections - English, mathematics, and reasoning – along with an aggregate score across the three sections of at least 330. Further details will follow as I receive them, but you will find for reference a full analysis of the 2018 Kent Test here. An additional number of children will have been found to be of grammar school standard through what is called the Headteacher Assessment, targeted to be 5% of the total cohort. You will find full details of the whole Kent Selection process here. Overall, these two processes last year yielded passes for 25.2% of Kent children in the age cohort.

Although there is an overall fall in then number of children taking the Kent Test, this will certainly be down to a sharp fall in Out of County (OOC) candidates. For, whilst there is a rise of exactly 300 in the number of Kent children being assessed as suitable for grammar school for 2020 over last year, there has been a fall in the number of  OOC children passing for the first time in many years . I explore this further below, along with sections on Sources of Information and Advice on admissions and appeals, Out of County Children, and Pressure PointsIn a second article below, I look at implications of the change of pass mark, especially any impact on super selective schools.  

The scores for achieving success in the Kent Test have risen substantially this year, the biggest shift since the new Test was introduced in 2014.
To be awarded an automatic pass, candidates will have had to have achieved a score of 110 on each of the three sections - English, mathematics, and reasoning – along with an aggregate score across the three sections of  the Test. The change of scores will make NO difference to the number of children passing, as the pass mark is set to achieve a target of  awarding 21% of children an automatic place and there will be no difference this year, as I will be able to confirm later when further details are available.
 
For children applying to those schools that select some or all of their pupils by high scores, the effect of the change is unpredictable (so please don’t ask) although I explore this further below.
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.

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. 

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