(updated May 2015)
New Line Learning Academy, Maidstone. The Academy was formed from the amalgamation of the former Senacre School and Oldborough Manor School, in West Maidstone, and is now in new buildings costing some £31 million. It is under the aegis of the successful Cornwallis School which also became an Academy with a role to support the new combined one. For 2009 entry, NLL was half empty before additional pupils were allocated places who never applied there. After successful appeals at other schools, numbers again fell, although there were 41 casual admissions that school year (possibly because other schools were full). Was the Academy viable even before it was built? The Academy was castigated in the national media in January 2010 for having the worst absence figures in the country. Unfortunately the DCSF published wrong figures, although persistent absence is still worrying at 22.4%. In 2011 - just 110 children were offered places out of a capacity of 210. This number fell as waiting lists and appeals to other schools. How can the school remain viable with these numbers even with its new buildings? Intake at the beginning of September 2011 was just 101. March 2012 - 135 places offered, 116 taken up in September, 55% of capacity. OFSTED Feb 2015 - Requires Improvement (as in 2013) Excerpts: Information about the School - New Line Learning Academy is smaller than the average-sized secondary school; It converted to academy status in 2007 and is one of a group of local educational establishments run by the Future Schools Trust; The new building for the academy was completed in September 2010; The academy has a resource base for 12 disabled and visually impaired students. Nearly half the students are supported by the pupil premium This is much higher than the national average; The academy meets the government’s current floor standards, which set the minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress. Key findings - This is a school that requires improvement. It is not good because: Progress has been too slow. Academy leaders have not yet secured consistently good teaching and so students do not achieve as well as they should; Information on students’ progress is not always used well. Recent changes have not had sufficient time to show an impact on students’ learning; Too many students, particularly the most able, do not make the progress of which they are capable; However: Key initiatives recently introduced to improve teaching and achievement have had a positive impact on standards, particularly in English and mathematics. The academy has struggled to attract students since its formation, in March 2013 - just 122 places were offered out of 2010 available, including 41 allocated by KCC (who did not apply). Headteacher claimed on Radio Kent in March 2014 it was built to cater for future rises in number of Maidstone children over next 30 years! This just does not happen. For 2015 entry, 148 places offered, including 35 allocations, all but 15 of those awarded in Maidstone. GCSE 5 A-Cs in 2014, 36%, below government floor standard, slipping form the 40% of the two previous years. Must be worried about the impact of the new Free science and technology school to be run by Valley Invicta Trust and opening in 2017.
North School Ashford. Since being rebuilt under a PFI Scheme, the school had been heavily oversubscribed.96 first choices oversubscribed on 2nd March 2010. A dramatic fall to just 22 first choices rejected on 1st March 2011. March 2012 - Popularity up again, third most popular non-selective school in Kent. 61 first choices rejected, March 2013 - still oversubscribed with 39 first choices oversubscribed. OFSTED Dec 2013 - Special Measures. The school is now negotiating with Swale Academies Trust which manages it, to be taken over as a sponsored academy, although this has stalled because of PFI issues. Still oversubscribed for 2014 entry and expanded by 10 places to 225! OFSTED Monitoring Inspection June 2014 and February 2015 - Reasonable progress towards removal of Special Measures, also in November. Applications slumped for 2015 entry, with 48 vacancies. OFSTED Jun 2015. Requires Improvement. Some excerpts: Information about the school. In February 2014, the local authority commissioned the Executive Principal of the Swale Academies Trust and a national leader in education (NLE), to assume responsibility for leading the school out of special measures. The trust has provided the senior leadership team for the school. This included the head of school, working under the direction of the Executive Principal. In April 2015 a new executive headteacher was appointed to the trust and is now fulfilling this role for the school. Plans for the school to become an academy, joining the Swale Academies Trust, are at an advanced stage. The school is larger than the average-sized secondary school. It has a sixth form. The proportion of disabled students and those with special educational needs is much higher than the national average. The school has a small, local authority funded unit, The Laurel Centre. The unit has capacity for 24 students, age 11 to 19 with autistic spectrum disorder. The school does not meet the government’s current floor standard, which sets the minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress. Key findings: This is a school that requires improvement. The Swale Academies Trust has brought highly effective leadership to the school. Rapid improvements have been made to all aspects of school life. Teaching has improved markedly in a short time.The sixth form is good.The proportion of students on track to make good progress across subjects in Years 9 and 10 is too low. Some teachers are not sufficiently skilled in planning and teaching lessons that help students learn well. Students’ attendance is below that seen nationally. The sixth form is good. In spite of the Special Measures finding in 2013, partly based on government information about GCSE 5 A-C pass rates that was misleadingly low, the school achieved 42% that year, above the government floor standard. This slipped to 36% for 2014.
Northfleet Technology College Completely rebuilt under BSF. 8 first choices rejected 1st March 2011, first time oversubscribed for some years - is this the pull of the new buildings.March 2012, once again oversubscribed. OFSTED 2012 - Good. Excerpts: Information about this school: This is an average-sized, non-selective secondary school in an area where some students are selected for grammar school places; It has specialist technology status; Sixth form provision is made in partnership with other local schools under the umbrella of the Gravesham 14−19 consortium; The school meets the current government’s floor target which sets minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress; The school has recently undergone an extensive rebuilding programme and moved into a new building in September 2010; The proportions of students who receive support at school action plus, or who have a statement of educational needs, is well above average. The proportion of students known to be eligible for support through the pupil premium is above the national average; Most students are from White British backgrounds. Full again for 2013 and 2014. In 2015 20 first choices were turned away as popularity increased further. GCSE results usually around the government floor standard, but slipped to 36% 5 A-Cs for 2014.
Northfleet School for Girls Was oversubscribed even before its capacity was reduced by 30 girls for 2009 entry under the rebuild for BSF. OFSTED Feb 2010 - Satisfactory and Improving with significant strengths. Jan 2011, OFSTED subject inspection for Music - Inadequate. 32 first choices turned down on March first for entry September 2011. Did not fill for entry 2012. OFSTED 2012: GOOD.Excerpts from Report: Information about this school - This school is larger than the average-sized secondary school and is a specialist college for business and enterprise. In July 2011, it became part of a Cooperative Learning Trust and its partners include, among others, the Co-op, Age Concern, North-West Kent College and the University of Greenwich. The largest group of students come from a White British background and the proportion of students from minority ethnic groups is slightly higher than the national average. The proportion of students eligible for the pupil premium is average. The proportion of students who are disabled or have special educational needs or who receive support at school action/school action plus is above average. The school has recently undergone an extensive rebuilding programme. The school meets the current government’s floor target which sets minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress. Key findings - This is a good school. Students achieve well throughout the school, including those in the sixth form. Although many students arrive at the school with standards that are below national expectations for their age group, they make good progress. By the end of Key Stages 4 and 5, they achieve broadly average standards. The sixth form is good. Students’ achievement is improving steadily and those following work-related courses make good progress. Teaching is good overall and, in some lessons, it is outstanding. The best teaching makes good links with real-life situations to make the lessons interesting for students. Support for students who are disabled or have special educational needs is good. Regular checks of students’ work, personal support and encouragement when needed ensure they make more progress than expected. Students behave well, have good attitudes to learning and feel safe. Fixed term exclusions and absence have reduced significantly since the last inspection. The school has effective procedures, including rewards for punctuality and good attendance. Significant improvement in students’ attendance in the sixth form is due to careful revision of the curriculum to make sure it meets their needs. A strong feature of the school is the high quality support and guidance provided by the headteacher and her team for all students. There are also sensitive structures in place for those who are at risk of underperforming. Nearly full for 2013. Vacancies for 2014. Headteacher retired summer 2014. Stlll vacancies for 2015 admission. GCSE results consistently above government floor standard, dipping to 52% in 2014.
Norton Knatchbull School Ashford. This grammar school usually fills but is not regularly oversubscribed. The new Headteacher is Ms. Susanne Staab, previously Deputy Head of Folkestone School for Girls, keeping the number of female heads of Kent boys' schools at three, ahead of the number of male heads of girls' schools. 3 qualified first choices oversubscribed on 2nd March 2010, 5 for March 2011. It is reported there were just three successful appeals for September 2011. Two of them were clients of mine. 5 first choices again oversubscribed for September 2012. OFSTED 2012 - Good. Excerpts: Information about this school; The school converted to an academy in April 2012; It is a slightly larger than the average-size secondary school; The school caters for boys in Years 7 to 11; The sixth form is co-educational; girls make up about one fifth of the sixth form roll; The school is selective on intake in Year 7; The ability of boys on entry is in the top 25% of the Kent ability range; Around one fifth of students are from minority ethnic backgrounds, the largest group is of Nepalese heritage; The standards achieved by students exceed the government’s current floor standard which sets the minimum expected levels for students’ attainment and progress. Key Findings:This is a good school; The headteacher reinforces high standards and drives improvement with determination, vision and ambition; Students achieve well, particularly in mathematics and science where their progress exceeds expectations; The sixth form is good. For 2013 entry, the school put on an additional form of entry, reflecting pressure on places as Ashford expands. Finished up with 178 children after appeals. The additional form has also been added for 2014 entry, taking it up to 180 capacity again. Just 121 offers were made for 2015 entry, now with a permanent capacity of 180. GCSE performance at 5 GCSEs A-C consistently low for a grammar school, 2014 being typical at 93%.