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Displaying items by tag: medway

Monday, 20 April 2015 00:20

Medway Academy Monopoly Continues

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the abdication of responsibility for the Bishop of Rochester Academy in Chatham, as the Diocese of Rochester, the previous main sponsor, decided to abandon its attempts to improve the standards and popularity of the school. The Academy has now been passed on to the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, headed up by The Rochester Grammar School, incorporating Chatham Grammar School for Boys and several primary schools.

Now comes news of a surprising merger between two more Medway Academy Trusts, an agreement having been reached to merge The Thomas Aveling Academy Trust (TA) with the Fort Pitt Grammar School Academy Trust (FP), under the catchy title of Fort Pitt Thomas Aveling Academy Trust. 

Thomas Aveling

What is notable in a Local Authority whose academy chains are currently dominated by grammar schools (the third chain being the Sir Joseph Williamson’s Academy Trust), is that this time the non-selective school appears to be at least equal in status.

Published in Peter's Blog
Decision Update Published here

I have been contacted by a number of parents since my previous article on the likelihood of Twydall Primary school becoming a fast track sponsored academy, run by the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, headed up by The Rochester Grammar School and the All Faiths Community Primary School in Strood. At a Governing Body meeting on Thursday 24th July, with just seven days notice, a binding resolution forcing the school to become a sponsored academy will be debated, three additional Local Authority Governors having been added to try and ensure the motion is carried.  Parents are not being consulted although, at a meeting to discuss the OFSTED Report there was a strong majority against the idea.

Twdall

Clearly, Medway Council is trying to force the takeover in a hurry, irrespective of the key 2013-14 data, which unofficially shows over 80% of the school’s pupils achieving the government floor standard of Level 4 in both English and maths, in the top quarter of all Medway primary schools. In addition, 51% of pupils passed the Medway Test against the 25% average across the Borough. This in a school that has a much higher than average number of children with special needs and with statements of SEN, and is designated as a centre for children with physical disabilities and complex medical needs. The school remains very popular and was oversubscribed with first choices for its 75 spaces.........

Published in Peter's Blog

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
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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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
Tagged under

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

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.

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Three weeks ago I wrote an article about the OFSTED failures of two Catholic schools, and  appended a comment about problems with admission numbers at St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive School in Chatham. However, it looks as if those who have stuck with the school are on a winner, as OFSTED has Reported that the school as having a GOOD standard of education, up from the previous 'Satisfactory' two years ago. St John Fisher is supported by St Paul's Academy in Greenwich, whose Principal spends one and a half days weekly at St John Fisher. Strong leadership is clearly a major factor in the turn-around, OFSTED recording: "The headteacher and the leadership team are passionate about driving up standards at the school.......

Published in Peter's Blog
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On 11th April, I wrote an exasperated Blog article dealing with the failures of Medway COuncil to respond to Freedom of Information Requests. What I didn't know at the time was that four weeks earlier the Medway Messenger had published its own article bemoaning the same failures by the Council. I have managed to obtain a copy of that article, written by Dan Bloom, and reproduce it below: 

"COUNCIL chiefs have taken five months to reply to a formal information request – which asked how many requests were being answered late......

Published in Newspaper Articles
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