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Ifield    

Kings  Farm 2018

Ifield School celebrates its third successive Outstanding Ofsted assessment and King's Farm, brought to its knees four years ago by a headteacher now banned from the profession, is now Good in every respect, in a very powerful Report.

The Federation saw a change of Executive Headteacher in September when Pam Jones, OBE, retired after a stellar career, and was succeeded by Abbie Birch, moving from the post of Her Majesty’s Inspector, having previously been a headteacher in Kent.

If anything, the achievement at King's Farm is the more powerful, having risen like a Phoenix from the train wreck of 2014. Taken over by the Cedar Federation that year, now: ‘All leaders, including governors, are uncompromising in their high aspirations for every pupil. They are relentlessly driving improvement and accept nothing but the best. The executive headteacher and the head of school model the high standards expected. An exceedingly positive and respectful ethos permeates the school’.

The strength of the transformation can be measured by: ‘In 2017 the school’s results at the expected standard for combined reading, writing and mathematics were the most improved in Kent, with an impressive rise of 34% from results in 2016’.

Published in News and Comments
Saturday, 05 May 2018 11:25

Medway UTC: Abject Failure -OFSTED

Further Update 2nd July: for anyone who thinks the concept of UTCs is still viable, try the latest UTC Ofsted failure and the latest closure (will Medway be much longer??)

Further update sentence in blue below.

Updated: Tuesday 8th May. See important comment below by Ita Caufield.

Ofsted has judged the new Medway University Technical College to have failed its Inspection on every count, some of its main criticisms being levelled at the members of the Governing Body who 'abrogated their responsibility'. Medway UTC is one of a new breed of 14-19 schools dropped in on existing school systems without thought for their impact elsewhere, with a horrendous record of success including five of the 26 inspected by Ofsted being placed in Special Measures. A further eight have closed through failure to attract students. The evidence below shows that Medway UTC is surely en route to be the eighth.

The Medway UTC opened in September 2015 in £12 million purpose built premises, sponsored by local businesses, Higher Education Institutions and Medway Council.

Medway UTC

Ofsted found that: there is a culture of low expectation across the UTC; current progress in all year groups very weak; poor GCSE and A Level results last year as a result of weak teaching; the curriculum is too narrow; there is no provision for physical education or religious education in the school; behaviour in lessons is poor and sometimes disruptive. These are the consequences of: governors failing to offer sufficient challenge for leaders or training for leaders and teachers to carry out their duties effectively; of significant turbulence in staffing; leaders development plans being not fit for purpose; and failure by teachers to match assessment to the learning needs of pupils with the result that the most able, those with SEN, and the disadvantaged make very poor progress.

I have never seen or read anything like the torrent of criticism heaped upon the quality of teaching in the school, as exemplified below. Frankly one would not expect such negative comments to be uttered about untrained instructors dropped in for their first term in a school. Academies and UTCs are not required to employ qualified teachers, and this report suggests they may have taken advantage of this loophole in full. I am astonished that Ofsted did not report on the issue, given there appears a complete breakdown in quality, with no redeeming factors identified.

Published in News and Comments

Hartsdown Academy’s recent OFSTED Report records that the school ‘Requires Improvement’ which, before publication I would have thought generous, because of factors I have identified in previous articles.

However, the Report focuses on the other side of the picture, with some very positive aspects, including: ‘the school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is outstanding. It has always been a strong part of the school’s work and continues to be essential to support pupils and respond to issues within the local community’.

Hartsdown Academy

 

Its main praise is reserved for Matthew Tate, the headteacher, who: ‘is transforming the school, having been in post for two years. He continues to steer its future path in the right direction with resolute energy and determination’. I am delighted to learn this, although still critical of some of the methods he uses and casualties created to achieve this outcome, as explained in my article on ‘Tough Love Academies’.

The biggest anomaly comes in the fall from Ofsted ‘Good’’ in March 2014, to the current rating, the headline then being ‘As a result of good teaching, students’ standards are broadly average at the end of Year 11. This represents good achievement from low starting points’ , the school described being not far off Outstanding.

Published in Peter's Blog

Kent Primary Schools inspected by OFSTED since September have again produced excellent outcomes overall, way above the national figures. Although there is just one new Outstanding School, Hernhill CofE Primary near Faversham; 85% of all 61 schools assessed were found to be Good, as against 76% nationally. Three academies: Beaver Green CofE and Kennington CofE both in Ashford; and Lansdowne Primary in Sittingbourne all had their first academy Inspection assessed Good, although they had each failed their previous Inspection under KCC. Two schools were found Inadequate.

 hernhill 1 

Meanwhile, Medway schools continue to underperform, with just 60% Good, not including the one Outstanding School, Luton Junior, situated  in one of the most socially deprived parts of the Authority.  Although the current period includes a small sample of 10 schools, the percentage is higher than the same period of 2016-17 which was 50% Good, the higher figure wholly as a result of good performance by Local Authority schools, again with the one school Outstanding. Pleasingly, for the first time for many years, no Medway schools have been found Inadequate so far this year.

  Luton Junior

Further details for both Kent and Medway below.

Published in News and Comments
Update: Luton Junior School, Chatham
OFSTED September 2017: Outstanding
"The school serves a community with a high proportion of disadvantaged pupils from many different backgrounds and cultures. The school is a haven of care, respect, friendship and learning, situated in the very centre of the diverse community it serves. The inspirational headteacher has led a remarkable improvement in all aspects of the school so that pupils now receive an outstanding education". 

A previous article reported on Ofsted Reports up to Easter, this one completes outcomes for the school year 2016-17.

It shows Kent Primary schools soaring to dizzy Ofsted heights, with 85% of Inspections for the year being Good or Outstanding, well up from last year’s 79% and well above the national average, the latest official figure for which is 77% to March. 22% of the 114 schools inspected improved their grading. Four more schools, Adisham CofE Primary, near Canterbury, Bobbing Village, Sittingbourne, Jubilee Free School, Maidstone, and Newington Community Primary, Ramsgate, were Outstanding to add to the seven in the previous part of the year. As explained below, Newington deserves special mention.

Adisham               Bobbing                                                             

 Jubilee                  Newington

By contrast Medway has fallen from its best performance of last year at 75% of schools found Good or Outstanding, down to 64% out of the 16 inspected in 2016-17, well below the national average. Six of these schools had still improved their assessment compared to two which declined, underlining the low standards set in previous years. Warren Wood deserves special mention, whose children suffered over ten consecutive years of failure under Medway Council, but is at last out of Special Measures.  

You will find further details below, along with a look at some notable outcomes for individual schools. In nearly every case good or bad, the key issue is leadership, rather than whether a school is an academy or Local Authority maintained. Every individual primary school assessment over recent years is recorded in the Information pages for Kent and Medway, I reported on the 2015-16 Ofsted performance  for primary schools here......

Published in News and Comments

This article describes a highly successful set of Kent secondary school OFSTED outcomes for the School Year 2016-17, along with Medway secondary and Special School results.

80% of the 20 non-selective schools inspected in Kent were assessed as Good, with over twice as many secondary schools inspected as last year. This is running well above the national average of 59% Good or Outstanding assessed up until March 2017, the latest period for which national figures are available, and the 57% of 2015-16. All three grammar schools inspected were found Good.

In Medway, three of the five schools inspected were Good. No schools failed their OFSTED in either Authority, as against 14% across the country.  

Special Schools have regularly been the highest performing sector in the county but this year just two out of four were assessed as Good, the other two Requiring Improvement.  Just one in Special School in Medway was assessed, Bradfields Academy, which was found to be Outstanding.

Looking forward into the 2017-18 Inspection cycle, I also outline the recent powerful report on Canterbury Academy here, whose previous Inspection I described as ‘OFSTED putting the boot in’ . This is not for the first time in a Kent non-selective school, as Inspectors attempt to place them in a one size fits all model, which makes the above assessments even more remarkable……

Published in News and Comments
For the most recent school year, Kent and Medway had fifteen secondary schools given full inspections between them, with 73% being assessed as Good or Outstanding, well above the national percentage of 57% (latest figure as of March). Seven schools improved their grading, with just two going the other way. The most impressive performance was by Skinners Kent Academy, which achieved an ‘Outstanding’ rating, see below.
SKA 2 
The tilt given by the most recent OFSTED assessment towards performance is seen in the achievement of the four grammar schools, all improving their grading, three to ‘Outstanding’: Dartford and Wilmington girls’ grammars and Harvey Grammar, although the new priority on Progress 8 Levels may go some way to reversing this.

In Medway the two schools inspected, Rainham Girls and Thomas Aveling, both maintained their ‘Good’ status.

Kent’s Special Schools continue to be rated at the highest level with every single school now currently rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ (although the Director of Education quoted just 96% in his most recent Report on OFSTED).These successes include last year’s three Inspections (79% 'Good' or 'Outstanding' nationally), with Milestone School maintaining its ‘Outstanding’ rating, the other two schools improving to ‘Good’. In Medway, the one Special School inspected, the INSPIRE Free Special School, was placed in special Measures.

Published in News and Comments

This article looks at two OFSTED ‘Outstanding’ Reports close to my heart, for Christ Church Pre-School and The Harvey Grammar School. There is also good cheer for long-suffering Medway as they collect their first Outstanding OFSTED of the year at Barnsole Primary along with some other good outcomes, and four more recent Kent ‘Outstanding’ Reports at: Brookfield Infant, Aylesford; Great Chart; Herne CofE Junior; and Tunstall CofE. Then there is the enigma of the 'Outstanding' Monitoring Inspection of Canterbury Academy!....

Canterbury Academy

The previous OFSTED assessment of Canterbury Academy as 'Requires Improvement', was a surprise to many, 

....

Published in Peter's Blog

For whatever reason, the number of OFSTED Inspections in both Kent and Medway is sharply down in the first five months of the school year.

In Kent in spite of the decrease in numbers, outcomes have improved on last years gratifying performance,  with a remarkable 16 of the 22 primary schools inspected improving their Grade, including three East Kent schools up to Outstanding: Kingsdown & Ringwould; St Mildred’s Infant, Broadstairs; and St Thomas Catholic, Canterbury.

Kingsdown and Ringwould    St Mildreds Broadstairs       St Thomas Canterbury   

Another twelve improved from Requires Improvement to Good, Molehill Primary Academy at last escaping Special Measures under its new sponsor, Leigh Academy Trust. Sadly, two have been found inadequate, St Nicholas CofE, New Romney for the second consecutive time, and Brenzett CofE disappointingly both being run by KCC.   

In Medway there were just five Primary Inspections, four Good, although with two improvements - St Helen’s CofE, Cliffe and Hoo St Werburgh - up from RI, together with Oaklands Primary just securing RI, with Medway Council still trying to find a magic answer to improve its appalling standards overall.

At secondary level, there were just four full inspections, all in Kent, as the schism between grammar and non-selective OFSTED assessments widens, driven by an increased emphasis on GCSE performance, this being exacerbated by government decisions to scale down the importance of vocational education and opportunities to motivate students by discounting repeat results. Wilmington Grammar School for Girls was up one category to Outstanding, with both Canterbury Academy and Knole Academy Requiring Improvement, the latter controversially down from Good, but Swadelands secondary crashing from Good to Special Measures again.

You will find more details below including commentary on some individual schools, and a full table summarising these outcomes at the foot of this article. There are a full set of OFSTED Results dating back to 2010 for Kent primaries here, for Medway here; for Kent secondaries here; and for Medway secondaries here.

Published in News and Comments

 Updated: 8th November

Nine headteachers from the eighteen non-selective secondary schools situated in towns around the Kent coastline, that is half the total, have lost their jobs over the past three years  with eight of the schools achieving less than 30% 5 A-Cs at GCSE including maths and English in provisional results for 2015. The schools to have lost their headteachers are: Astor College, Dover ; Castle Community College, Deal; The Charles Dickens School, Broadstairs; The Community College Whitstable; Folkestone Academy; Oasis Academy, Isle of Sheppey; Pent Valley Technology College, Folkestone; St Edmund's Catholic, Dover; and Ursuline College, Margate. Another two schools have closed - Marlowe Academy, Ramsgate and Walmer Science School. There are particular issues in Thanet. I look at further details of all these cases below.One wonders which school will be next to lose their headteacher, and who is going to be attracted to such high risk posts in the future? 

A Report by the Future Leaders Trust highlighted on the BBC website last month has once again focused on the difficulties of many schools in England’s coastal towns across the country to be able to flourish. The charity, which “works for fairer opportunities in schools”, says there is a culture in "which students are given limited experience beyond their own town and where they see little value in academic qualifications”. 

Education Secretary Mrs Morgan, last week announced a National Teaching Service of 1500 'elite' teachers to support struggling schools by 2020. Coastal towns and rural areas are seen as a priority in an attempt to reverse generations of underachievement in some places but, starting with a pilot of 100 teachers in the West of England it is difficult to see this having a positive effect on Kent schools any time soon. 

The original version of this article led to a BBC SE item which focused on the departure of the four headteachers who lost their jobs in 2015.....

Published in News and Comments
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  • Holcombe Grammar Appeals Still Unresolved

    Update Thursday: Medway Council has written to Holcombe Grammar School requiring them to make a decision on the waiting list issue (below). Was/Is Holcombe planning to leave the families in the lurch over the summer holiday.   

    Over a month on from the Holcombe Grammar school appeals, and two days from the end of the school year, distressed families whose sons were found of selective ability by the Holcombe Appeal Panel are still waiting to learn if they are to be placed on the waiting list. This follows eight months of worry leading up to the appeal process. I have worked with many families in the past waiting and planning for school admission appeals, and know the enormous stress this places on them, as they believe their child's future depends on their performance at appeal. This extra and unnecessary dragging out of the decision, with the mistakes, misinformation  and  confusion that surround it, can only pile the pressure on.  

    The mystery of why and how Holcombe Grammar misrepresented Medway Test scores in its case to the Appeal Panel is no clearer in spite of an FOI by me asking these two questions, and an Internal Review into the process whose outcome also fails to answer the questions, itself offering a response that is clearly untrue. Along the line the school has put in writing repeated demonstrable falsehoods, as explained below, most of which it has not even acknowledged. I now have copies of the appeal notes of a number of the appeal cases that confirm the parental version of events, proving the school’s versions in its role as Admission Authority are false. 

    I look at two of the central issues below, events up to this point having been explored in two previous articles, most recently here

    Read more...
    Written on Wednesday, 18 July 2018 15:16 Be the first to comment! Read 64 times
  • Turner Schools Revisited
    American Guru on short visit to Folkestone
    Compares it to American Rust-Belt cities!

    The Turner Schools relentless PR campaign to promote its Folkestone academies drives on with a lengthy article in the TES (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) about another American pedagogue introducing his views to the teachers of the Trust. He finds surprising and false parallels between the coastal towns of Kent and the American ‘Rust Belt’. These are surely unrecognisable by local residents who should be up in arms about the comparison with US towns in the previously industrial North East, with their rusty, disused, failed factories and falling populations where 'Most people who are economically viable are moving to places like New York City'. Sadly, he also reiterated some of the fallacies put out previously by the Trust as he paces around the auditorium at Folkestone Academy in Kent, impeccably dressed in a cream jacket, chinos and rimless glasses’. He is reported as addressing teachers of the new Turner Free School, although it doesn't appear to have any apart from its Principal and three Vice Principals (see below)!

    TurnerSchools 

    This is my second article about Turner Schools Academy Trust and you should read the first before this one, as what follows is primarily an update on the situation described there, along with an analysis of the TES article and an exploration of the 'Magic Pupil Pot'. 

    In between, I have had an exchange of letters with Dr Jo Saxton, CEO of the Trust,  after I had challenged her claim that I made numerous factual errors in my previous article about Turner. Fortunately, in the end there appeared to be just one minor error, now corrected of course, but she has now failed to respond to several questions I put rising out of the correspondence.

    In addition, I have uncovered other issues below, including a refusal by the Trust to answer an FOI on the number of teachers leaving Folkestone Academy as ‘Publication would be or would be likely to  prejudice commercial interests'.  (I am told the number of leavers is 25 teachers!). I am not sure what the commercial interests are that need to be kept secret. 

    The remainder of this article is divided into five Sections: The Mystery of the Magic Pupil Pot; Individual Schools (items not covered  elsewhere); the TES Article; Correspondence with Dr Saxton; my Four Questions

    Read more...
    Written on Friday, 13 July 2018 14:46 3 comments Read 974 times
  • Oversubscription & Vacancies Medway Primary Schools 2018

     The proportion of Medway children offered one of their choices in a Medway primary school has risen to 97.6%, the highest proportion for at least six years. This is a result of a reduction of 27 in the number of Medway school places taken up by children from the Authority and outside, together with an increase of 80 places in local schools. As a result, there are 524 vacancies across the 67 schools, which is 14% of the total available, up from 12% in 2017.

    Most vacancies are in Rainham (last year just 3% places empty) and the Hoo Peninsula, with 11% of places empty. At the other end is Rochester with 21% of all places left empty in five of its eight schools. Most popular school is once again Barnsole Primary which turned away an astonishing 72 first choices turned away, followed by All Saints CofE and Walderslade primaries with 23 disappointed first choices. There are eight schools with 15 or more first choices turned down, spread across the Authority, and listed in the table below. 

    Barnsole     All saints chatham   Walderslade Primary 2

    Twelve schools have over a third of their places empty, up from eight in 2017, but headed for the third year running by All Hallows Primary Academy, with 73% of its Reception places empty (up from 70% in 2017), and looking increasingly non-viable as a stand-alone school. Altogether 36 schools, over half of the total of 67 primary schools have vacancies in their Reception classes. 79 Medway children  were offered none of their choices and have been allocated to other schools with vacancies by Medway Council, 48 in Chatham schools.  

    I look more closely at each Medway area below, together with the situation for Junior Schools

    If there are sections that need amplification, please let me know…….

    Read more...
    Written on Saturday, 07 July 2018 19:13 Be the first to comment! Read 171 times
  • Cedar Federation, Gravesend: Ifield Special and King's Farm Primary Schools Celebrate Excellent Ofsted Outcomes

    Ifield    

    Kings  Farm 2018

    Ifield School celebrates its third successive Outstanding Ofsted assessment and King's Farm, brought to its knees four years ago by a headteacher now banned from the profession, is now Good in every respect, in a very powerful Report.

    The Federation saw a change of Executive Headteacher in September when Pam Jones, OBE, retired after a stellar career, and was succeeded by Abbie Birch, moving from the post of Her Majesty’s Inspector, having previously been a headteacher in Kent.

    If anything, the achievement at King's Farm is the more powerful, having risen like a Phoenix from the train wreck of 2014. Taken over by the Cedar Federation that year, now: ‘All leaders, including governors, are uncompromising in their high aspirations for every pupil. They are relentlessly driving improvement and accept nothing but the best. The executive headteacher and the head of school model the high standards expected. An exceedingly positive and respectful ethos permeates the school’.

    The strength of the transformation can be measured by: ‘In 2017 the school’s results at the expected standard for combined reading, writing and mathematics were the most improved in Kent, with an impressive rise of 34% from results in 2016’.

    Read more...
    Written on Tuesday, 19 June 2018 13:07 4 comments Read 2308 times
  • Leigh Academies Trust and The Williamson Trust to explore merger (takeover)

    Update at foot of article

    The Leigh Academies Trust and the Williamson Trust are exploring a merger to take effect by 2019. You will find a joint statement by the two Academy Trusts here.  Leigh is considerably the larger of the two, with 17 academies, eight secondary, eight primary and one Special School, with two new Free schools in progress. The Williamson Trust has five schools, two secondary and three primary, having had Elaine Primary taken away from it earlier this year. 

    Whilst the Leigh Trust is a highly successful expansive Trust, with regional hubs in Dartford, SE London, Maidstone and Paddock Wood, and Medway, Williamson Trust has been beset by issues but brings the prestigious Sir Joseph Williamson's Grammar School to the table. The joint statement underlines the differences, with the Leigh section recording the wide range of its reach, noting 'the added expertise of a top grammar school' that will come from the merger. For the Williamson Trust, currently without a Chief Executive, there are: the 'potential benefits of a merger with such a significant and successful organisation'.

    Nothing has been settled, but this feels far more like a takeover than a merger if it happens. I look at the issues in more detail below. 

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    Written on Thursday, 14 June 2018 11:47 6 comments Read 666 times
  • Oversubscription and Vacancies in Kent Primary Schools, 2018

    There has been a fall in pupil numbers taking up places in Kent Primary Reception Classes for the second year. There were also 49 additional permanent and temporary places created in the last year (after six schools had temporary classes removed). These two factors have produced an improvement in the proportion of families being offered schools of their choice as reported in my previous article on the initial data. The total number of children offered places in Kent reception classes on allocation in April is 17274, down by 121 on 2017’s 17395, and an even larger large fall from the 18066 of 2016.

    A number of schools have kept temporary increases in place for several years, so there can be confusion about changes in the number of places available since allocation in 2017. Although there are 539 new places since the official 2017 Planned Admission Number (PAN), the great majority of these have been in place for one or more years. 286 of the additional places have not been taken up. The actual increase includes 60 completely new places for the new Bishop Chavasse school in Tonbridge. As a result, there are vacancies in every District, including the urban areas. The tightest parts are Dartford, with just 3% vacancies and urban Maidstone and Sevenoaks with 4%, there also being a local issue in Northfleet. Comparison with my 2017 oversubscription and vacancy article shows the easing of numbers across the board.

    Brent Outstanding 1

    There is still no let-up in numbers chasing the most heavily oversubscribed schools, headed this year by Brent Primary in Dartford, turning away 73 first choices, followed by East Borough in Maidstone with 52 and Herne CofE Infant School with 43. Just two schools, Great Chart, Ashford and Cecil Road, Gravesham, have featured in the ten most oversubscribed schools in each of the last three years. The changes in popularity often reflect events relating to the schools such as Ofsted Reports and Key Stage 2 outcomes.

    East Borough Primary             Herne Infant

    The problem comes at the other end, with 22 schools having more than half their places empty, up from 18 in 2017, with six in both years, all of which will now be under financial pressure.

    I look at the issues in more detail below, including a survey of each separate District. You will find advice on what to do if you do not have the school or your choice here, and the reality of primary school appeals here

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    Written on Sunday, 13 May 2018 19:06 2 comments Read 2379 times