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!....
The previous OFSTED assessment of Canterbury Academy as 'Requires Improvement', was a surprise to many,
Christ Church Pre-School, Gravesend, and other Gravesend Pre-Schools. I don’t normally Report on pre-school OFSTEDs, but Christ Church Pre-School managed by Christ Church, Echo Square, Gravesend is one I am associated with and so know of its excellent leadership that has produced comments such as: “The support for children's learning is exemplary; All children, including those who have special educational needs, make exceptional progress in relation to their starting points. Children are remarkably confident, enthusiastic learners who have the skills needed for the next stage in their development and move to school”. This is the second consecutive Outstanding Report for the Pre-School.
Gravesham is blessed with many high quality pre-schools, other recent ‘Outstanding’ assessments being: Owl Pre-School, Shears Green; Playpen, Meopham; and Cobham Community; another three having been Outstanding until recently, nearly all being at least good. This is a sharp contrast with the primary sector, which has the worst OFSTED record in the county in spite of the excellent start in the pre-school sector!
The Harvey Grammar School, Folkestone
I spent fourteen years working at the school, leaving as Acting Headteacher, and so am delighted to see it has been awarded its first Outstanding OFSTED Report. Excerpt: “The headteacher is admired by pupils, parents and staff alike. His exceptional leadership has led to rapid improvements in all aspects of the school’s work. He leads a dedicated and professional team who are all highly committed to achieving the best for every pupil. This culture of excellence means that pupils flourish because they receive highly effective teaching, challenge and support.” A reminder that the main factor behind any Outstanding school is normally outstanding leadership.
Barnsole Primary School Outstanding, and other improving Medway OFSTEDs.
It is hardly a secret that I have often heavily criticised Medway Council’s performance in education. So it is very pleasing to be able to report that whilst Barnsole Primary has become the Authority’s first Outstanding school since September, having leapt two levels from 'Requires Improvement', another eight out of the total of ten primary schools inspected have been assessed as ‘Good’. Even more impressive, five of the ten have improved their grading, so it may well be that the Authority is belatedly getting its act together, although the Government’s threat to turn all schools in under-performing Authorities into Academies must hang heavy on Medway. You will find a list of all Medway outcomes since September here.
Outstanding Kent Primary Schools
The four most recent Kent Outstanding Primary Schools, Brookfield Infant in Aylesford, Great Chart, Herne CofE Junior, and Tunstall CofE, bring the total in Kent to seven, which at 18% of those inspected is twice the national average. Even more pleasing is that every one of the seven has improved its classification, Herne Juniors making a double jump from ‘Requires Improvement. They are amongst the 24 improved schools out of 39 inspected by OFSTED, with just two going the other way. You will find a list of all Kent outcomes since September here.
The previous OFSTED assessment of Canterbury Academy as 'Requires Improvement', was a surprise to many, and read almost as though the Inspectors had decided to 'put the boot in'.
I have now been sent a copy of the first Monitoring Inspection which is carried out on all RI schools, and it appears to describe a completely different school, on the verge of 'Outstanding' as this Inspection team clearly had difficulty in coping with the previous result. The opening paragraph sets the scene: "The academy sustains its clear sense of moral purpose, namely to meet closely the very diverse needs and aspirations of a large pupil body. Its vision to be a ‘school for all talents’ is formidable and complex. The passionate and inclusive attitude from the senior leadership is well understood and applied across the academy. The academy’s curriculum is remarkable in including a huge variety of subjects and routes. Many courses and subjects are taught by staff with industry experience and qualifications in well-organised, bespoke teaching areas." The only mild criticisms appear to be that (1) pupils follow school teaching requirements too closely! and (2) In areas where there is no hard data, it is difficult to measure success (I agree!). However, this criticism (?) ends: "It is most important that this should be addressed, so that the academy can tell its unique story, and learn any needed lessons, using very good management information".
This appears to be another case where the Inspectors are straining at the leash, held back by the 'Quality Assurance' team back at base, who have clearly insisted they put in criticisms so that the previous decision is not totally discredited. Fortunately, the truth shines through.