Supporting Families
  • banner8
  • banner4
  • banner13
  • banner2
  • banner10
  • banner6
  • banner11
  • banner7
  • banner9
  • banner3
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

Kent Primary Schools have made the best possible response to government’s proposals turn every school in the country into an academy by 2020, by delivering what can only be called an outstanding improvement in OFSTED grades in 2014-15. Even Medway, bottom Local Authority in the country for 2013-14, appears to be improving.

St Martins Folkestone


The facts: In Kent, out of 88 primary schools inspected, an astonishing 49 improved their grades, with just 9 declining. The total included 16 academies, of whom 7 got better, but 4 (a quarter of the total) got worse. 66 of the Kent primaries were assessed Good or Outstanding, well above the latest national figures, with just 2 having failed (one an academy, the other run by an academy).  

In Medway, out of 25 schools inspected, 10 got better, but a worrying 4 still got worse. Of the 5 academies, 2 got better, one got worse.

You will find a fuller analysis below with notable outcomes highlighted, and the OFSTED outcomes of all individual Kent primary schools for the past five years here, with Medway here.

You will find my previous survey of Kent and Medway Primary school OFSTED outcomes from January to March 2015 here, and the 2013/14 figures here. In the meantime, OFSTED has also published a critical Report on Medway School Improvement, covered here.

Full statistics are at the foot of this article. If there are any errors or omissions in the individual schools sections, please let me know and I will adjust figures accordingly.......

Published in News and Comments

Kent’s secondary schools continue to show improvement at OFSTED with seven of the 27 inspected in the past year seeing their assessment rise up a level, against three that slipped. The new OFSTED framework that was introduced in September places an even greater importance on academic performance, so the gap between grammar and non-selective schools has widened. This has been reinforced by decisions about what government counts for GCSE performance. A number of vocational, or “lesser academic”, subjects have been cut out of the approved list, which, together with a decision to exclude re-takes, has benefited grammar schools even further and seen many non-selective schools slip in the league tables that feed OFSTED. In Medway, just one non-selective school was inspected.

However, pride of place must go to the Special School sector, with three of the six schools being awarded Outstanding status and three Good, four of these having improved their assessment. 

This article covers all inspections published between September 2014 and July 2015, although there may be one or two late ones whose results won’t be published until later this month, in which case I will return and update the figures.

You will find an individual comment about each Kent secondary school here and for Medway here, the pages being updated when one of the schools on it has an OFSTED…..

Published in News and Comments

Oasis Academy Skinner Street in Gillingham continues and extends the tale of woe for Medway Primary Schools by receiving a Pre Termination Warning Notice Letter from the Department for Education.

oasis academy skinner street

This follows the receipt of a similar letter by Chantry Primary Academy in Gravesend last November.

The Pre-Termination Warning to Academies states that if standards do not improve, the schools could be closed, following the termination of funding. To put it into context, exactly 100 letters warning of the consequences of continued failure have been issued to academies nationally in the past three years, but just four of these are Pre-Termination Warnings, the second most serious category. One school was terminated, the Durham Free School, after failure to improve following a damning OFSTED.  Eleven of the of the other schools receiving Pre-Warning Notice Letters are also Kent and Medway academies, details below, a far higher proportion than the national average.......

Published in News and Comments

Congratulations to all at Gravesend Grammar School for what I believe is one of the most glowing “Outstanding” OFSTED Inspection Reports I have ever read. You will find this superb report on an outstanding school here.

The whole Report is carefully shaped around the school motto and opens: “The school’s motto of ‘consule cunctis’ meaning care for all permeates all aspects of the school’s work. It fuels the powerful drive for excellence of the executive headteacher and the governors and is understood and shared by all members of the school community”.

GGS Consule

Unusually for a grammar school, it next highlights students’ exceptional behaviour and outstanding relationships within the school. It continues with the challenging curriculum, the outstanding teaching, and high standards. The excellent progress of students which culminate in an excellent preparation in the sixth form for student’s next steps in life as they value highly the opportunities for academic study and the exceptional quality of the experiences they are offered for leadership and enrichment, are other highlights of the report. “Safeguarding and child protection arrangements are exemplary”.

And yet…….

Whitehill 1a 

Published in Peter's Blog
Page 1 of 8

Latest News & Comments

Just click on a news item below to read it in full. Feel free to subscribe to the news via the email link to the right or the RSS Feed at the bottom of the page. Please note that the 800 or so regular subscribers who receive each news item directly are not included in the number of readers recorded below the item. If you have a view on any item posted, please leave a comment. Also feel free to suggest items of news, or areas where comment is needed to: \nNews items appear as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.

  • Brook Learning Trust Schools in Trouble: Ebbsfleet Academy; Hayesbrook School; High Weald Academy

     The Brook Learning Trust runs three schools, Ebbsfleet Academy, Hayesbrook School in Tonbridge, and High Weald Academy in Cranbrook and appears to be in serious trouble, both financially and in terms of the standing of all of its three schools. 

    Ebbsfleet 1       High Weald 1    Hayesbrook 2
    I monitor a number of factors that indicate how a school supports its students and how it stands in its locality. These include: pupil vacancy rates in year Seven; popularity of schools expressed through first preferences when making applications; percentage drop out rates from the school for all reasons; and proportion of pupils leaving for Elective Home Education; together with academic performance. These three schools are each amongst the worst in the county on four in the case of Hayesbrook or all five of the first five measures for the other two schools. I consider that they can therefore be regarded as generally, if not academically, failing. These common themes across the Trust’s schools suggest the problem starts with the ethos and standards set by the Trust.

    The situation at High Weald Academy is especially dire, as government is proposing a multi-million pound premises investment into this school which appears to have no future under the Trust.

    I look below at the factors affecting each school and the Trust as a whole. I now have data showing a further fall in first choice applications for each school for Year Seven admission in September 2018, which will surely see the Trust heading for insolvency and for each school immense financial difficulty in providing an acceptable level of education. 

    Written on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 06:21 Be the first to comment! Read 522 times
  • Medway Secondary School Allocations for September 2018: Initial Information and Advice

    Table for allocations below has been completed, with more recent information provided.

    You will find a parallel Kent article here

    The Medway Council Press Release for secondary transfer is the thinnest yet I have seen from the Council on this, or any other subject I can recall. It contains just four facts: 3259 Medway children applied for and were offered places in secondary schools; 91% have been offered a first or second preference school; over 95.5%  were offered one of their preferences; there were 630 applications for Medway school places from children outside Medway. That is it! UPDATE: I have now obtained the full data through an FOI request and inserted it below. I can see no reason why the Council has chosen to hide it.  

    However, there is also a bizarre footnote on a completely different matter, considered below. 

    The table below compares my extrapolation of these numbers with outcomes in previous years. There is also initial advice on what to do if you have not received the school of your choice at the foot of the article on what to do if you have not been offered the school of your choice. This begins as always with my Corporal Jones mantra, do NOTHING in panic! You may regret it. There is no quick fix. 

    Both of the quoted percentages in the Press Release were identical to those in 2017, both a significant fall on 2016, at 93.7% and 97.4% respectively.For 2017 offers, first and second preferences allocated were separated, so one can guess the proportion of first preferences has fallen this year as Medway Council typically tries to fudge its figures. No mention of, or regret about, the unfortunate 147 children with no school of their choice. 

    The cohort size has increased by just 85 children, with the 4.5% who have been given no school of their choice, at approximately 147, five up on 2017.

    Why is the Council so afraid of providing information to its residents?

    Written on Friday, 02 March 2018 12:25 1 comment Read 695 times
  • Kent Secondary School Allocations for September 2018: Initial Information and Advice

    You will find a parallel Medway article here.

    Several updates below, including grammar issues for boys in Longfield, Hartley, NAG, etc. Also look at my response to comment, below. Grammar places for boys in Whitstable, Herne Bay also looking an issue. 

    Kent secondary school allocations have been sent out today for those registered to receive by email and should arrive tomorrow by post for all (weather permitting).

    17,442 Kent children applied for places in schools, 745 more than in 2017, with 79.6% of them being offered their first choice. This is the lowest percentage for at least five years, but just 0.8% down on last year. 765 children been given none of their four choices, at 4.4% of the total, again the highest proportion for at least five years, and well up on last year’s 633. I know that a number of additional school places have been created at pinch points across the county, notably Tunbridge Wells, but I am already hearing of some very difficult situations for some of the children with no school of their choice.

    In spite of another large increase in out of county applications to Kent schools, up 545 to 3,289, just 818 were offered places, only eight more than in 2017. This will have been partially balanced by around 500 going to schools outside Kent.

    You will find more information, including a look at some of the pressure points, together with the tables of outcomes below. You will also find required scores for super-selective schools as these are confirmed (all information welcomed), and initial advice at the foot of the article on what to do if you have not been offered the school of your choice. This begins as always with my Corporal Jones mantra, do NOTHING in panic! You may regret it. There is no quick fix. 

    There is also a link to the limited advice service I now offer. 

    Written on Thursday, 01 March 2018 12:03 12 comments Read 2747 times
  • Knole Academy and the Scandal of Exorbitant Headteacher Pay in Kent and Medway

    Update: Shortly after I published this article, the national BBC led with the same issue on its website, although amazingly there has been no local media interest at all. Is it that this is not of interest as it is what people expect? 

    The headteacher of The Knole Academy in Sevenoaks, a moderately performing single school academy, was paid £210,000 in 2016-17 making her the highest paid academy head or Chief Executive in Kent and Medway. This is an increase of 35% over the past three years after what can only be described as an irresponsible series of decisions by Governors, bringing the whole process into disrepute, and undermining the credibility of the very real financial crisis in schools, as explained below. By contrast the Principal of Homewood School, the largest secondary school in the county, had a salary of just £110,000 last year, one of majority of secondary heads around or below £100,000.


    After Knole the next two highest paid heads are the Principals of Leigh Academy and Wilmington Academy, both part of the Leigh Academy Trust, who each received £200,000 in remuneration, including their roles as Directors of the Trust. They were followed by the CEOs of two of Kent’s largest Academy Trusts, both responsible for more than a dozen primary and secondary schools: Swale AT and Leigh AT at £190,000 and £180,000 respectively.

    Grammar School Academy Headteachers are generally paid from around £85,000 to £110,000 annually, with Dartford Grammar School, the largest and most oversubscribed grammar school in the county on the latter sum. Highest paid Grammar School Head is at Rainham Mark Grammar, Medway. with £155,000 (£90,000 for HT salary, £65,000 for Academy Trust CEO), followed by Barton Court, Canterbury, at £125,000 (also a Trust CEO).

    At primary level the previous highest earner, the Head of Meopham Community Academy, has now retired from his £150,000 salary post, his replacement being employed at less than half of that rate. The highest paid heads of schools or multi academy trusts I have found this time round are the same two single standing academies as previously: The Academy of Woodlands in Gillingham, £105,000 in 2015-16, and St Stephen’s Academy, a Junior school in Canterbury on, the same figure for 2016-17.

    I look more closely at the Knole situation, and that of other high paying academies below. 

    Written on Wednesday, 21 February 2018 20:29 5 comments Read 1503 times
  • Medway Council fails its most vulnerable children

    Medway Council has once again failed its children, this time the most vulnerable, as confirmed by a scathing Ofsted Report on its ‘services’ to children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities, published this week. The report concludes ‘Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) has determined that a Written Statement of Action is required because of significant areas of weakness in the local area’s practice’. I think that is putting it politely. There are strengths identified; it just happens that all these appear to be down to the health service and not education.

    Concerns centre about chaotic management of the ‘Service’, resulting in failure to take necessary action. This can be seen from the following quotes: ’Medway’s education and service leaders do not share one vision and strategy for SEN and/or disabilitiesNo arrangements are in place to ensure effective joint oversight and clear lines of accountabilityLittle progress has been made in addressing several of the pressing priorities for improvement identified as far back as 2012Leaders’ understanding of what has and has not improved in the meantime is limited. I could have chosen many others.


    'The collaborative work between professionals and children and their families to plan services and meet individual needs, known as co-production, is weak at both a strategic and individual level' This criticism is underpinned by the heavy criticism of the implementation of Education and Health Care Plans for children with the greatest needs, which are at the heart of Departmental work, and ‘A considerable number of parents shared concerns with inspectors that the needs of their children are not being identified and met sufficiently well’.

    There is of course reference to Medway's record exclusion rates: ‘Although improving, rates of permanent and fixed-term exclusion are still notably higher for pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities in Medway than for similar pupils nationally, as it is for all pupils. Lack of specialist provision has brought serious consequences for pupils with severe SEN or disabilities travelling out of Medway daily on long and very expensive journeys.  

    Written on Saturday, 10 February 2018 22:33 4 comments Read 446 times
  • Goodwin Academy – SchoolsCompany Trust on the way out?

    Updated 15th February: see also comment below.

    KM Online 16th February shows details of the job losses at this previously recovering school, expected because of the failures of SchoolsCompany. 

    The new Interim Chief Executive of SchoolsCompany Trust has apologised in a letter to parents of pupils at the Goodwin Academy for ‘previous financial failings, which are unacceptable’.

    Sadly, this has come as little surprise to me, as I foresaw issues as early as 2014, when I noted in an article that SchoolsCompany had contributed to the startling decline of the predecessor school Castle Community College (CCC), in Deal from Ofsted Outstanding to Special Measures in three short years. As a reward SchoolsCompany took over as sponsor of the school as recently as July 2016. The school was awkwardly renamed SchoolsCompany Goodwin Academy, presumably to advertise the name of the Sponsors as a priority, above creating a new school image.     

    The Academy limped on for a period, after 2014, with the 'support' of SchoolsCompany,  unpopular with a third of its places unfilled, and underperforming, although there have recent strong signs of improvement under new school leadership. Unusually, eight of the eleven Company Trustees were paid a salary by the Trust, hardly an inducement for encouraging scrutiny. After the school received a Financial Notice to Improvefrom the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) in October, seven of the Trustees resigned including the Executive Principal of the Company This left the school with just four Trustees including the CEO and founder of the company, Elias Achilleos, although he now appears to have been replaced by the new Interim Chief Executive.  The Trust has demonstrably failed some of the Financial Notice's requirements for improvement. 

    Goodwin Academy

    The school will clearly have a future in its new £25 million premises opened four months ago on October 6th, just three weeks before Trustees resigned en masse, but it looks increasingly likely it will not be with Schools Company. Indeed a more than doubling of first preferences to 173 for 2018 admission, shows confidence in the school and its leadership, achieved without obvious input from the few remaining Trust members. 

    Written on Thursday, 08 February 2018 10:43 4 comments Read 1041 times