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Thursday, 21 January 2016 23:02

Kent on Sunday: 2015 GCSE and A Level results for Kent and Medway

State school educated children in Kent and Medway both maintain their above average performance at GCSE and A Level. Nationally, 57.1% of children achieved five GCSEs Grades A-C, including English and maths, up from 56.6% last year. However, both have slipped this year, Kent from 58.1% down to 57.3%, whilst Medway has declined from 58.8% to 57.8%.

At A Level, a range of measures is available each of limited value, with Kent above national average  on point score per A Level entry, and below on percentage of students achieving three A Levels. In Medway, measures are generally slightly below national averages.

The Government twist on the GCSE story that any school below the government floor target of 40% of children gaining 5 Grades A-C including English and maths is failing is simply not valid in a selective county such as Kent. This is because on average 25 children out of every hundred all of whom should have reached the floor target are taken away from our non-selective schools. Simple arithmetic shows that removing these brings the floor target for non-selective schools down to 20% and by that measure, all but four in Kent are succeeding. My bigger concern is that too many selective schools are under achieving.

For me, the outstanding Kent highlights are: High Weald Academy in Cranbrook, at 59%, up from 31% in 2014, seventh best non-selective in Kent, still suffering from unfair lack of popularity with parents, dating back to its pre academy status as an OFSTED failed school; Bennett Memorial in Tunbridge Wells, at 72% still regularly highest performing non-selective school in Kent, Folkestone School for Girls, one of just two grammar schools with 100%, with Chatham Grammar School for Boys, on 99%, best performing Medway grammar, but in Special Measures just two years previously.  Dover Grammar School for Girls, the highest performing school in Kent at A Level, by point score per student comes above all the prestigious and super-selective grammar schools....

Grammar Schools
My rule of thumb is that all grammar schools should average at least 98% 5 GCSEs A-C, with an occasional dip as low as 96%, allowing for issues with individual children such as illness. At the top come Dartford Grammar and Folkestone School for Girls with 100%, followed by another ten with 99%: Chatham Grammar School for Boys; Cranbrook; Dartford Girls; Invicta; Judd; Rochester; Skinners; Tonbridge; Tunbridge Wells Girls; and Weald of Kent. Shockingly, eight grammar schools have achieved less than 95%: Borden Grammar (consistently); Barton Court (one off); Sir Joseph Williamson’s (one off) all on 94%; Dane Court Grammar (second consecutive year), Dover Grammar School for Boys (not above 94% for at least the past five years), Sir Roger Manwood’s (for the past three years) 92%; Oakwood Park Grammar 91% (one off); and Chatham Girls 88% (another one off).
 
 
Non-Selective Schools
As usual the Kent table is dominated by three faith schools: Bennett Memorial Diocesan 72%, (although on a steady decline over the past four years from 86%; St Simon Stock Catholic, 66%; and St Gregory’s Catholic, also down from an average in the 70s over the previous four years, at 64%. Next are a much improved Hayesbrook School, together with Hillview Girls at 61%; followed by Westlands on 60%, High Weald 59% and Valley Park on 58%. Wrotham School is on 57%, two schools with good improvement being Dartford Science and Technology College, also 57% and Skinners Kent Academy on 56%. In Medway Thomas Aveling improving year on year is top with 59%, with Hundred of Hoo on 54%

Non selective schools have received a double whammy as government no longer counts students who have improved their grades by repeating subjects (an important incentive for students for whom success may not come naturally) and no longer counts some practical and creative subjects (often taken by students with aptitudes here) forcing a focus on academic subjects only. Sadly, this will act as a disincentive for too many young people whose aptitudes lie outside formal study.

The struggling schools nearly all show a sharp decline over the past few years: Marlowe Academy, 6% (now closed); St George’s CofE Foundation, Thanet, one of the most oversubscribed schools in the county, 12%; Pent Valley Technology College, almost certainly closing this summer 15%; Spires Academy 17% all fall below my adjusted floor target. Other schools below 25% are: Ellington and Hereson now renamed Royal Harbour Academy at 23%; followed by The North and Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academy.

The North placed in Special Measures two years ago when at 42% has sadly declined ever since to 24% under new management, whilst Sheppey has actually improved over the previous year when it was second worst in the county at 19%. Robert Napier on 26% is the lowest performing Medway school at 26%.

 

A Level
One of the problems with comparing A Level scores and pass rates is that they are so dependent on the entrance level to the school, as too many schools keep raising this in terms of GCSE grades to be achieved, in order to recruit the students most likely to get good grades. This reduces opportunity and is true both of many non-selective schools as well as grammars, so that students capable of achieving A Level passes albeit at lower grades are deprived of the opportunity. The traditional alternative route via Further Education Colleges has now been closed completely by some Colleges, including Mid Kent and North West Kent.

With this constraint in mind, the best performing schools measured by A Level points per student are: Dover Grammar School for Girls; Invicta; Highsted; Judd; and Mayfield, with Rochester Grammar some way behind  top in Medway.

For the non-selectives, some high scoring schools may have benefited by a small number of entries, but others have almost caught the lowest grammar schools, Dover Grammar Boys, 741 points per student entry, and Gravesend Grammar 748.8 tied with Duke of York’s Royal Military School. Next comes Rainham school for Girls with 742.6 Bennett Memorial with 731.6, followed by Mascalls; John Wallis CofE; Knole Academy; Westlands; and Hillview Girls. 

Last modified on Friday, 27 May 2016 23:07

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