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Displaying items by tag: medway - Kent Independent Education Advice

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

 

Medway OFSTED Inspection

I understand that OFSTED is very keen for more parents to contribute to their in depth Inspection of Medway schools. One way of doing this is through Parent View for any school, which you will find here.

A press release by OFSTED published today begins: "Teams of Ofsted inspectors have today begun a week of co-ordinated inspections in Medway to find out why the city has a disproportionate number of under-performing primary schools – and whether the picture is improving. Ofsted’s latest data from the 30 April 2013, found that almost 8,000 children are attending a primary school that, at its last inspection, was judged to be less than good. That’s 29 primary schools not providing the expected level of education to young children. This is much worse than the quality of primary schools across England and is an unacceptable situation".  However, as regular browsers of this website will know, the picture is far worse than this with so many areas of the Department underperfoming or failing in their functions. Just six weeks ago, Councillor Les Wicks lost his job as Cabinet Member for Education and Children's Services after having presided over this debacle for too many years, despite calls for him to go from all sides. Other recent lowlights of Medway Council (slogan: Serving You) performance include:

Published in News and Comments

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

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

Warning – this is a very long and somwhat rambling article about Freedom of Information Requests in Medway, but it makes me feel better if nothing else! Back in December 2011, I wrote a blog article on this very topic, complaining about Medway Council’s repeated failure to respond to FOIs with a follow up in February. . Since then the Information Commissioner has ruled that Medway Council is in breach of Section 10(1) of the Freedom of Information Act in failing to comply with a request of mine within the statutory time for compliance. However, this appears to have made no impact on their current poor practices. .......

Published in Peter's Blog

Government has announced  that Medway will be awarded a new University Technical College (UTC), possibly to  be sited in the Chattenden Barracks area. This is one of 13 in the latest round of UTCs nationally, the previous round awarding another local UTC to be sited in the Ebbsfleet Valley.  To quote David Cameron, University Technical Colleges are planned to "offer 14-19 year olds the opportunity to take a highly regarded, full time, technically-oriented course of study. They are equipped to the highest standard, sponsored by a university and offer clear progression routes into higher education or further learning in work".  The Medway UTC will cater for 14-19 year olds, specialising in engineering and construction, "traditionally at the heart of Medway’s economy", and will be sponsored by the University of Greenwich, MidKent College, Medway Council and local employers. Medway Coumcil states: "work to get the college up and running will start immediately", surely a necessity as the UTC is planned to open in September 2014. As a stand alone institution this looks a sound, well-funded concept, designed to "fill the skills gap in the UK by providing high quality training for technicians and engineers", but.....

Published in News Archive

I now have official details of the pattern of children crossing the Kent and Medway boundaries to take up secondary school places for 2013 entry and, as in previous years it gives a very different picture from the more lurid headlines on this issue. I have divided the cross border movement into four sections below: Medway; North West Kent; West Kent & South Kent. I don't have precise figures for which part of the county children live in so some of these figures are best estimates. The headline figures are: 589 children from out of Kent are taking up places in Kent secondary schools, with 436 going the other way, figures very similar to 2012. But don't jump to conclusions. Read the following:...

Published in News Archive

Updated Sunday 2nd March

I have now received most of the relevant statistics relating to admissions in Medway. Its press release figures for 2013 entry are: nearly 86% being awarded their first choice; more than 7 per cent their second place preference; and over 2 per cent their third preference.  I also collected further information on the infomation relating to individual schools through an FOI , which has enabled me to complete the table below showing comparisons with previous years. I am awaiting another dealing with out of Medway children taking up places in Medway secondary schools. This will enable me to further separate out the data I have. 

Medway Pupils 2013 2012 2011
  Number % % %
Offered a first preference 2425 86.0% 86.7% 87.2%
Offered a place at one of their top three choices 2678 95.0% 97.7% 96.9%
Offered a place at one of their six choices 2730 96.8% 98.6% 98.1%
Allocated a place by Medway Council 90 3.2% 1.4% 1.9%
Total number in Cohort 2820   2949

2905

Published in News Archive

OFSTED visited Medway Council in January, to inspect its arrangements for the protection of children, and found the Council to be Inadequate, the lowest category, in each of the four key assessments. These are: overall effectiveness; the effectiveness of the help and protection provided to children, young people, families and carers; the quality of practice; and leadership and governance. This shocking and worrying Report follows the departure of the Head of Children's Services, Rose Collinson, last summer and her replacement by Barbara Peacock. Whilst at the time Medway Council refused to comment on the reason for the  departure of Rose Collinson, Lead Councillor for Children's Services Les Wicks now appears to be saying as reported in the Medway Messenger that early last year he recognised Children's Service were not improving fast enough and so Barbara Peacock was brought in. From which we can conclude that the previous Director was dispensed with because of failure to improve services. The OFSTED Report does identify some progress against weaknesses identified in previous inspections, but makes clear that the pace of improvement is too slow and the council has not yet succeeded in ensuring that weaknesses in core child protection work have been sufficiently addressed. For example, the council has been unable to demonstrate an effective strategic response to repeat referrals, which are exceptionally high. 

Whilst this website is primarily concerned with educational issues, Education and Children & Adult Services are run by a single Director overseen by a single Lead Member of the Council, Councillor Les Wicks, who sails serenely on, apparently oblivious to the damage  his department is causing to the life chances of Medway's children. Indeed ..............

Published in News Archive
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