Updated November 2015
Oakwood Park Grammar School OFSTED Dec 2011: Outstanding. Excerpt from Information about school: Oakwood Park Grammar School is an average size and draws students from a wide area around Maidstone. Few students come from minority ethnic groups or speak English as an additional language. Girls are admitted to the sixth form. The proportion of students with special educational needs and/or disabilities is low. Only a very small number of students are known to be eligible for free school meals. The school specialises in mathematics and computing, and applied learning. It converted to academy status in May 2011. Excerpt from Main finding: This is an outstanding school with a good and improving sixth form. It fulfils its aim of offering students ‘an exceptional learning experience’. In spite of the school's Outstanding status it rarely fills at 150 students, but in any case is usually prepared to go up to 180 after appeals. GCSE performance at 5 A-Cs has dipped in the past years from the grammar school norm of 98 - 100% to 94% in 2014, down again to 91% in 2015. 2016 appeals 55 out of 78 successful.
Oasis Academy Hextable: Closed for new admissions from September 2015. Will then run with just Years 11 and 13 until completely closed July 2016. A disgraceful episode, as closure was announced to parents without any warning in February 2015 even though opposed by KCC as there is now a shortage of places in the area which can only get worse. For 2015 admissions, 95 Dartford children have been offered places they did not apply for in Bexley. A rather pointless OFSTED in March 2015 found the school Requires Improvement, with a follow up Monitoring Inspection in July, however there is reassurance that the few remaining students are being well catered for.
Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey: Chequered life for as long as I can remember. That is, back to 1983 when I was headhunted to run the then 13-19 school, but did not apply in the end after I had explored it! Became an Academy in 2009, sponsored by Dulwich College who failed to make it a success. In September 2009 after years of controversy over the change of age and ways to convert, it changed from 13-18 to become a two site 11-18 school with 18 forms of entry, the largest school in the country at that time. After yet another Principal was removed, the highly respected David Day was appointed just before OFSTED in 2011 which failed it with Notice to Improve although finding it now had capacity to improve. In February 2013, new buildings were opened on both sites. OFSTED a month later found it considerably improved, although classifying it as Requires Improvement. This was not enough and Dulwich College gave up the task it had proved inadequate for and the academy was handed over to the Oasis Group. Mr Day was of course removed in spite of the improvements he was making. OFSTED returned in March 2015, and again found it Requires Improvement, the main criticisms being the achievement of students and the quality of teaching. OFSTED described the school as: Information about this school: Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey is an 11 to 18 school. It is larger than the average-sized secondary school; The academy became part of the Oasis multi-academy trust in January 2014; The executive principal and the associate principals were appointed since the last inspection by the Oasis multi-academy trust. The vast majority of students are from White British backgrounds. The proportion of students supported by the pupil premium is above the national average. There are 83 students for whom the academy receives Year 7 catch-up funding. This is funding for students who did not achieve Level 4 (the nationally expected level) at the end of Key Stage 2. The proportion of disabled students and those with special educational needs is above the national average. iZone is an on-site unit, managed by the academy, which supports students who may otherwise be at risk of permanent exclusion. As part of this provision, 12 students attend Stevedores, which is away from the main school site, but managed by academy staff. The academy is being supported by the national director for school improvement and the regional academies’ director from the Oasis multi-academy trust. The school did not meet the government’s current floor standards in 2014, which set minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress. The new principal is quoted by The Times on his arrival in September 2014 as "A head teacher who transformed a failing school has spoken of the huge challenge he faces in turning around an academy that officials said was the worst school they have ever visited". This is clearly false, as the school was already on the up under the improvements instituted by Mr Day, but he is reported elsewhere as making the same statement after his arrival at his previous school. Originally Oasis judged the school as only needing his services half-time the reminder spent running his previous school, so they clearly did not see much of a problem! A subsequent article in the Local Schools Network (which appears to draw heavily on my previous comments on this page) puts the record straight. The following summer of 2014, saw the school's 5 A*-C GCSE pass rate plummet to 19%, the lowest in Kent apart from the closing Marlowe Academy. This year, Mr Millar refused to disclose the schools GCSE pass rate to the Kent Messenger as the school "is “unable” to accurately report the figures due to a large number of exam papers being sent to be re-marked". The reality of 24%, whilst slightly up on 2014, made it again one of the lowest performing schools in Kent, The school always has vacancies and for 2015 had 68 children given places at the school on allocation in March, who had not applied for it, the highest number in Kent apart from the closing Marlowe Academy.
Orchards Academy, Swanley: Coincidentally the second school I was headhunted for back around 1983 but refused! At that time it had some 1500 students, but has been shrinking ever since under mixed leadership, recently losing out to the more popular Knole Academy in Sevenoaks. Starting to improve in recent years, it has received a real fillip with the closure of the Oasis Academy Hextable (above) and was full on allocation in March 2015. OFSTED Feb 2012 - Good. Excerpt from Information about the school: - Orchards Academy replaced the former Swanley Technology College in November 2010, when the school became a member of the Kemnal Academies Trust. Orchards is smaller than the average secondary school. It is a non-selective school in an area which operates a policy of selection by ability. The current headteacher was appointed in December 2010. Since September 2011, the school has operated under a joint governing body with Kemnal Technology College. There have been several changes in the composition of the senior leadership team and in teaching staff since the school’s previous inspection. The proportion of students known to be eligible for free school meals is above the national average. The proportion of students who are disabled or who have special educational needs is well above the national average. The main group represented is that of students who have moderate learning difficulties. The school meets the current floor standard. GCSE 5 A-Cs consistently above government floor standard, rising to 54% for 2014 still sound at 49% in 2015.
Pent Valley Technology College, Folkestone. Has struggled in recent years, and it was not a surprise the headteacher and two senior staff left at Easter 2015 after a take over by the Swale Academies Trust empire. Under the previous headteacher the school had shrunk from being oversubscribed to the Kent school with the highest percentage of vacancies on allocation in March 2015, at 74%, having been in the bottom five for a number of years. GCSE results also plummeted in 2014 to 21% fourth lowest in the county. Three of the others have now closed. This is a totally non-viable situation and it is not surprising there are rumours about the school closing. The school has a massive disadvantage in that the Folkestone grammar schools have recently introduced an alternative entrance test for grammar school admission. This has seen the grammar school cohort soar to over 30% of the peer group, reducing both numbers and academic quality for the local non-selective schools, of which Pent Valley is bottom of the heap. Having said all this: (1) Pent Valley has been awarded £1.5 million by KCC for capital improvement to improve standards (and presumably hopefully head off closure); (2) Pent Valley's last OFSTED in January 2013 rated the school Good. Some excerpts from the Report: Information about the school: This is an above average-sized, non-selective mixed secondary school that provides for a sixth form; Most students are of White British heritage but there is a growing number from minority ethnic groups; The proportion of students supported by the student premium is well above the national average. The proportion of students supported through school action is well above average, as is the number supported by school action plus or with a statement of special educational needs. The school meets the current government floor standard, which is the minimum expected for students’ attainment and progress. Key findings: This is a good school. 2015 provisional GCSE results place the school at a dire 15% % A-Cs, third worst in Kent. The school is now managed by the Swale Academies Trust.
Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Faversham. One of just three mixed grammar schools in Kent. OFSTED March 2015 - Outstanding. Excerpt from Information about the School - The school converted to become an academy in April 2011. When its predecessor school, also Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, was last inspected by Ofsted it was judged to be good overall. Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School is an average sized 11–18 school. The school selects from the top 25% of students. Excerpt from Main Findings of the Report - The headteacher and governors have a clear and uncompromising vision for the school that promotes the achievement of every student within a caring community. The school has sustained high levels of attainment. The sixth form is outstanding. Regularly heavily oversubscribed with a large number of appeals. With an intake of 142, there tend to be around eight successful appeals both from children who has passed, living some distance from the school, and those who have not passed, but with a strong case. GCSE 5 A-Cs just below the norm for grammar schools at 97% in 2014, falling further to 94% for 2015, but above on previous years.
Royal Harbour Academy, Ramsgate. Article in progress being completely rewritten: Opened in September 2015. Based on previous successful Ellington and Hereson School, and failed Marlowe Academy which was closed in July 2015. The Marlowe premises to be used for the lower school which has not proved popular with E&H parents. 21 first choices turned away March 2012. Full in Year 7 in September. OFSTED 2012 - Good. Excerpts: Information about this school; This is a smaller than average-size secondary school; The percentage of students known to be eligible for the pupil premium support is above average; Just over 25% of students are supported through school action, and 20% are supported at school action plus or have a statement of special educational needs; These proportions are well above the national average; Since the previous inspection, a new headteacher has been appointed to the school, following the retirement of his predecessor in August 2012; The school meets the government’s floor standards, which set the minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress. Key findings:This is a good school; All staff share the headteacher’s ambitious vision for the school to promote the achievement of every student within a caring and cohesive community. The school became part of the Coastal Academies Trust, headed up by Dane Court Grammar and King Ethelbert School on 1st April 2014, although it is not an academy itself. There may be problems with the school's application to become an academy as described here. Ellington and Hereson has been very popular for years, pressure brought about by parents trying to avoid Marlowe! For 2013 entry, there were 23 first choices turned away, 5 in 2014, and 25 for 2015, before the takeover of Marlowe was announced, which created sufficient spaces to accommodate all who wanted to go there. Academically, Marlowe has been a disaster throughout, its 6% 5 A-Cs in 2015 being one of the lowest percentages of success in the country. Ellington has slipped over the past three years, from 43% in 2013, to a very worrying 23% in 2015.