(updated March 2016)
Maidstone Grammar School. A new headteacher was appointed in September 2012, after his predecessor endured a brief and difficult time at the school. He is Mr Mark Tomkins. MGS reports that over the years Mr Tomkins has worked in three schools two of which have been selective and in Kent. He worked at Dartford Grammar School for nine years, and for the last six years has been Deputy Headteacher at The Judd School in Tonbridge. He recently completed a one year secondment at Coopers Technology College in Chislehurst as Vice Principal. Mr Tomkins’ passion outside work is rowing. He is a member of Maidstone Invicta Rowing Club where he also coaches students from his current school. He has rowed at The Henley Royal Regatta in 2009 and 2010 competing in The Thames Challenge Cup and continues to inspire young people in the sport. There are new oversubscription requirements for 2016 entry, with residence in key parishes a requirement. As the school is regularly heavily oversubscribed, I see little point in applying if you don’t live in one of these named parishes. Priority is given to Children resident in one of the named parishes, achieving at least a mark half way between the pass mark and the maximum marks available in the Kent Test. Then to children who have simply passed the test, in order of (a) siblings and (b) those living the shortest distance from the school. As parents know Kent test scores before applications are made, it is clearly important that those scoring less than 360 (in 2015) should include Oakwood Park Grammar on their list, as some families living apparently close to the school lose out. OFSTED September 2013: Outstanding. Information about the school: Maidstone Grammar School is a larger than average-sized selective boys’ school which admits girls into the sixth form. It has a modern languages specialism; The school meets the government’s current floor standards, which set the minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress; here have been significant changes in leadership, with two changes of headship since the last inspection. The current headteacher took up his post at the beginning of the last academic year. Key findings: This is an outstanding school. 2014 entry saw 52 grammar qualified first choices oversubscribed. In appeals it was indicated that the school applied to KCC to have an additional form added to absorb demand, but KCC blocked this to protect admissions to Oakwood Park Grammar School. 7 out of 50 appeals were successful, reverting to a pattern of years when the school was previously heavily oversubscribed. 49 first choices oversubscribed for 2015 entry, furthest distance offered for normal grammar qualified applicants, 5.99 miles. 12 successful appeals out of 67, a higher number than normal. 5 A-C GCSE pass rate at 98% for 2014, and has not been higher for some years, mainly due to disappointing English results. Fell to 96% for 2015.
Maidstone Grammar School for Girls Oversubscribed. Outstanding OFSTED. 18 qualified first choices oversubscribed on 2nd March 2010. Number of girls in Maidstone has fallen, so pressure on both grammar schools has eased. Just one qualified girl who placed them first was turned down for 2011 entry in March 2011. By the time of the appeals there were just 167 places accepted. At Group Appeal hearing, Headteacher indicated 5 more places could be managed on top of the 175 Planned Admission Number. A total of 15 were admitted on appeal. 22 qualified first choices turned away for 2012 entry, several of whom did not get places on apeal. Raised its Planned Admission Number by five places to 180 for 2013 entry, but very surprisingly popularity slumped for 2013, with a remarkable 40 free places before appeals. Places available for 2014 entry after allocation. Has become a Foundation school, which enables it to arrange its own appeals for 2015 entry. After the headteacher retired in August 2014, a successor appointed for September left suddenly at Easter 2015, after a controversial first two terms. The Deputy Headteacher Deborah Stanley was appointed Head for September 2015, which appears a popular appointment. Planned Admission Number was increased to 180 for September 2015, with 14 vacancies on allocation in March, which will have vanished after 46 successful appeals out of 79. 99% 5 A-Cs in 2014, a disappointing 97% for 2015, lowest for many years.
The Malling School After several difficult years, is now Federated with Holmesdale Technology College, and is benefiting enormously from the collaboration with what was a Good school, but is now the weaker part of the pairing. OFSTED May 2015 found the school Good for the second time Some excerpts: Information about the school - The school is much smaller than the average-sized secondary school, with a small sixth form. There are more boys than girls. It is a non-selective school in an area with selective schools. The proportion of students who receive support through the pupil premium is above average. About one third of Year 7 students receive catch-up funding which is for students who did not attain the nationally expected level in English or mathematics at the end of primary school. The proportion of disabled students and those who have special educational needs is very high. The school has a specially resourced unit, the Tydeman Centre, for 90 students who have statements of special educational needs for speech, language and communication needs or for an autistic spectrum disorder. The school is federated with Holmesdale Technology College and together these schools have trust status under one governing body. The two schools’ sixth forms work together and the Trust Executive Principal works in both schools. Based on students’ first GCSE entries for English and mathematics at the end of Year 10, when these students were in Year 11 in 2014, the school did not meet the government’s current floor standards,which set the minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress. Taking into account students’ improved results in English and mathematics when they retook these GCSEs in Year 11, the school met the government’s current floor standards. In 2014 the school achieved Leading Edge School status, awarded for being a high-performing school based on its value added scores in 2011 to 2013. Key findings:This is a good school. Students’ overall progress and their progress in English and mathematics have been above average in the last three years. From low starting points, students attained the national average percentage of GCSE English A* to C grades. The outstanding provision for students based in the Tydeman Centre means that they make outstanding progress in their work and personal development. The school's previous reputation still puts off applications, and there were vacancies for 2012. For 2013 entry, there were initially 57 vacancies, nearly a third of the total number of places on offer. A similar number for 2014 entry, down to 49 for 2015 entry, before appeals to other schools. Sharp fall in 5 GCSE A-Cs to 29%, although these will always be low as the school has a high proportion of SEN statemented children in its large Unit. Up slightly to 30% in 2015.
Maplesden Noakes School Maidstone. Usually heavily oversubscribed. Popularity fallen for 2010 with just 27 first choices oversubscribed on 2nd March 2010. OFSTED June 2010. School judged to be good. Numbers fell again for September 2011 entry, but still 17 first choices oversubscribed, the same number for 2012. 4 successful appeals out of 7 for 2011. 22 first choices oversubscribed for 2013 entry. OFSTED September 2013: Good. Some excerpts from the Report - Information about the school: The Maplesden Noakes School converted to an academy school in February 2012 - When its predecessor school, with the same name, was last inspected by Ofsted it was judged to be good; It is an average-sized school in an area where a significant proportion of students go to local grammar schools - It is a specialist business and enterprise college; The proportion of disabled students and those with special educational needs supported at school action is well below the national average - The proportion of students supported at school action plus or with a statement of special educational needs is below average; Less than one in 10 students is from minority ethnic groups, which is well below the national average; the school meets the government’s current floor standards, which set the minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress. Key findings: This is a good school. Students achieve well - In Years 7 to 11, students make good progress; they achieve better than expected GCSE grades at the end of Year 11; Teaching is typically good. The sixth form is good and a real strength of the school. Over the past two years its popularity has increased and students’ progress has improved. Much teaching in the sixth form is outstanding; In recent years the headteacher’s outstanding leadership has skilfully and effectively developed leadership capacity at all levels; Three appeals for admission in September 2013 entry were all successful. 8 first choices oversubscribed for 2014 entry, 33 in 2015. For 2015 entry, all 8 appeals heard were upheld, another dozen being offered places before the appeals were heard. A dip in previously consistently high 5 GCSE A-Cs to 41% for 2014, up to 46% in 2015.
Marlowe Academy, Ramsgate. Closed in July 2015, being absorbed by Ellington and Hereson School, also in Ramsgate. Details here.
The Marsh Academy, New Romney. This replaced the Southlands School in New Romney, certainly not urban, not failing and not socially deprived! Sponsors this time were Microsoft who presumably wanted to use the school as a test bed for their ICT developments, picking up on KCCs educational link with the company. Also Tonbridge School was a sponsor, the assumption being that rich independent schools catering for highly able and wealthy pupils have skills which transfer to the management of state schools. Tonbridge School has now withdrawn after discovering, as have other private schools at other academies, that it is somewhat of a challenge. Vacancies for 2011 entry. A third empty for 2012. Still plenty of vacancies for 2013 entry. OFSTED 2013: Good, up from Satisfactory in 2010. Some excerpts: Information about the school: This is a smaller-than-average secondary school with a sixth form - Since the previous inspection, the numbers of students on roll have decreased because of fewer people living in the area; The academy moved into new buildings less than two years ago; An additional inclusion and community facility is currently being built; The Principal took up post at the start of the summer term 2013; The proportion of disabled students and those with special educational needs identified by the school at school action is well-above average - The proportion with a statement of special educational needs, or supported at school action plus is high; Some sixth form students attend lessons at Folkestone School for Girls and the academy has a motorcycle maintenance facility located off-site; The academy is sponsored by Tonbridge School, Microsoft and the local authority; The academy meets the government’s current floor standards, which set the minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress by the end of Key Stage 4. Key findings: This is a good school.Strong OFSTED does not improve popularity, with 49 vacancies for September 2014, and 30 for 2014 before grammar school appeals. The school suffers in both numbers and higher ability pupils as do other non-selective schools in Shepway from the high proportion of pupils selected for the Folkestone grammar schools through the additional Shepway Test.% GCSE A-Cs lowest for some years in 2015 at 36%.
Mascalls School Paddock Wood. OFSTED May 2012 - Good. Excerpts from Report - Information about the school: This school is a larger than average, non-selective school in an area with grammar schools and has a large sixth form. It is a popular, over-subscribed school. A much lower proportion of students than average are known to be eligible for free school meals. The proportions of students on the school action and school action plus programmes are double the average; the proportion of those with a statement of special educational needs is in line with the average. The school meets the government’s current floor standards, which set
the minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress. Key findings: This is a good school. The headteacher has responded very successfully to challenges he has faced, his actions have resulted in raising achievement in Key Stage 4 this year. Regularly oversubscribed, 34 first choices oversubscribed for September 2011 in March, 33 in 2012, 16 for 2013, although after reallocation there were no appeals as all children persevering in their applications were awarded a place. 4 first choices not offered places in 2014 and again in 2015. 49% 5 A-Cs in 2015.
Mayfield Grammar School, Gravesend. OFSTED Jun 2013 - Outstanding. Some Excerpts - Information about this school: This is an average-size secondary school with 256 students in the sixth form; The school selects from the top 25% of girls; It converted to become an academy in February, 2012; When its predecessor school, Gravesend Grammar School for Girls, was last inspected by Ofsted it was judged to be good; The school has a specialism in science and a second specialism in languages; A little under one in three students is from a minority ethnic group, which is above the national average; A little under one in five students speaks English as an additional language which is above the national average; The school meets the government’s floor standards, which set the minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress. Key finding: This is an outstanding school. See additional comment here. Following concerns expressed about the appeal process, some fresh appeals were held. Some spaces available after allocation 2014 entry. The school now uses a different appeal panel. Mayfield introduced its own admission test for September 2015 entry to serve as an alternative to the Kent Test. Girls can be considered via either process and I can see little disadvantage in taking both tests, as happens with the Dover and Shepway tests. The only possible downside is that both results will be quoted if there is an appeal although, as there is no way of knowing at the time of testing whether either or which test will reflect poorly, this should not discourage parents from entering girls for both assessments. Mayfield boomed in popularity for 2015 admissions, mainly through success in the Kent Test 134 offers Kent Test, 11 Mayfield Test. 11 first choices turned down, a considerable number of lower choices, from London and Essex also rejected, on distance grounds. The Mayfield Test offers a complex process with a computer assessed component and a written English Test. Understanding the pass score is even more complex. For 2016 admission girls were required to achieve EITHER 100.15 in the computer test and a score of 10 in the English, OR 97.07 in the computer test and 15 in the English. I am afraid I don't have any idea of the standard being sought. GCSE 2015 97% 5 A-Cs.
Meopham School Has suffered from poor popularity for many years as surrounding schools have taken it in turn to attract Meopham parents away from it, most notable recently being Longfield Academy. Was taken over by Swale Academies Trust in 2012, and appears to be improving standards as a result. GCSE results for summer 2013 were the best for many years. OFSTED Nov 14 - Good, up from Requires Improvement. some excerpts - Information about the school: The school converted to become an academy on 1 February 2013. It is a member of the Swale Academies Trust. When its predecessor school was last inspected it was judged to be a school causing concern; The academy is a much smaller than average sized secondary school. It has a small sixth form; The school has a small, local authority funded, unit for students with autism, The Nick Hornby Centre. The unit has capacity for 16 students; The academy meets the government’s current floor standards, which set the minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress; The academy receives external support from the Principal of the academy trust who is a National Leader of Education. Key findings -This is a good school: The academy is well led and managed. Leaders have an unrelenting focus on improving the quality of teaching and increasing students’ progress. Still not popular with 27 vacancies for September 2015 before appeals to grammar schools. Reached government floor standard for GCSE in 2015 with 41% % A-Cs at GCSE. Popularity clearly improving as the school has expanded by 10 places for 2016 admission.