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News and Comments - Kent Independent Education Advice

News and Comments

The latest news posted by Peter J Read; 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 over 800 regular subscribers who receive each news item directly are not included in the number of readers recorded below the item, who have gone beyond the headlines to look at the full article.  If you have a view on any item posted, please leave a comment.

Please feel free to suggest items of news, or areas where comment is needed to: peter@kentadvice.co.uk.

 
News items below appear below as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.
The Williamson Trust of six academies currently comprises: one grammar school, Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical school (SJWMS) in Rochester; one All Through School - the Hundred of Hoo Academy (HofH); and four Medway primary schools, All Hallows Primary Academy; Elaine Primary Academy, High Halstow Primary School, and Stoke Community School, three of whom are on the Hoo Peninsula.
                         ElainePA             HundredofHoo               
The Trust is a classic and certainly not unique example of the fallacy that a successful grammar school has the expertise to run other types of school with equal success. The Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) for the South East formally raised concerns about Elaine Primary in December 2015, following up with a wider Letter of Concern about poor standards at Elaine, All Hallows and Stoke in January 2016. Then in April 2017, the Trust was issued with a Pre-Termination Warning Notice for Elaine Primary threatening to close the school by cutting off its funding.
 
Earlier this week, a Public Relations Company employed by the Trust sent out a Press Release, not mentioning any of this, but explaining in glowing terms how wonderful it is for Elaine Primary to have the opportunity to transfer to a small London Primary Academy Trust. No mention of the appalling education provided for its pupils for the last five years, and indeed further back under Medway Council.
 
This article looks at the issues around this decision in more detail along with a closer look at the Hundred of Hoo Academy and the Williamson Trust.

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Skinners School update: The headteacher has sent out a letter explaining the rationale behind the school's proposals. This confirms the driving forces, I have referred to below: Pressure on West Kent grammar places for boys; and the financial advantages to improve facilities.  

Schools that operate their own admission rules are now publishing proposals for admission in September 2019 for Consultation, where they are making changes. Details for Kent primary and secondary schools that have posted their proposals here, and Medway here

This article looks at the far-reaching changes proposed for The Skinners School in Tunbridge Wells which will give priority to Kent boys, and the failed attempt by Invicta Grammar in Maidstone to give priority to schools run by the Valley Invicta Trust.

Skinners (2)               invicta

A previous article looked at proposed changes at The Rochester Grammar School, again giving priority to its own schools, but now called into question by the Invicta situation, as explained below, and which has exposed a much greater issue in Medway, details to follow shortly. 

Rochester Grammar

A future article will look at other proposals including a number of schools extending priority to children on Free School Meals or attracting Pupil Premium (a slightly more comprehensive group).......


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Key Stage Two school performance for 2017 tables were published on Thursday, with 65% of Kent pupils meeting the expected standard for the second year running, well above the national average which was 61%. Medway was once again below average at 58%.

Government’s key measure is progress from Key Stage One (end of Infant stage at age seven) through to Key Stage Two, in Reading Writing and Mathematics. The best overall progress performances in Kent were by: Kingsdown & Ringwould CofE, Dover, and Bredhurst CofE, 16.1; Temple Ewell CofE, Dover, 15.0; Castle Hill Community, with 15.4, and Christ Church CEP Academy, 14.7, both from Folkestone; Canterbury Road, Faversham, with 14.6. Apart from Bredhurst, every one of these schools is in East Kent, showing that Progress is not a function of West Kent prosperity. Just one Medway school reached and also surpassed these levels, Barnsole Primary, with three outstanding progress scores, to total 19.1 (explanation of numbers attempted below).

In Kent, five schools saw every pupil achieve the expected achievement standard set by government: Rodmersham, near Sittingbourne, for the second year running; Ethelbert Road, Faversham: and Temple Ewell CofE in Dover, all three schools amongst the highest performers for each of the previous two years, and all three again in East Kent; together with Seal CofE, and Crockham Hill CofE, both in Sevenoaks District.

Ethelbert Road    Rodmersham   Temple Ewell 2

In Medway, Barnsole was again the highest performer with 89% of pupils achieving the expected standard. 

Barnsole

Government also sets a Floor Target for all schools to reach, in either Progress in all of Reading, Writing and Maths, or Achievement. In Kent, 20 out of 414 schools failed to achieve either standard, with Richmond Academy, in Sheppey failing on all four counts. Medway had five schools out of 62 below the floor target.

I look more closely at all of the main categories below; you can see my 2016 report for  comparison hereThe article concludes with some advice to parents trying to select a primary school for their children.....


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I have now had further opportunity to look at data relating to the recent Kent Test outcomes for Admission in September 2018, with a summary of the statistics below. This article expands my initial look at the 2017 Kent Test results, written in October, which should be read in conjunction with this article. The figures do not match exactly, as adjustments and late tests have produced changes.

Bidborough CofE

Headlines are:
  • The proportion of passes for Kent school children has fallen slightly from 25.7% to 25.4%, made up of 19.1% automatic passes with a further 6.4% Head Teacher Assessment.
  • Girls are still ahead on both automatic test passes since the Test was changed in 2014, and also in HTAs, with the differentials widening to 26.6% girls passing to 24.3% of boys.  
  • As in previous years, the highest proportion of HTA success is in East Kent, nearly twice the lowest in West Kent.
  • The proportion of passes for Kent school children has fallen slightly from 25.7% to 25.4%, made up of 19.1% automatic passes with a further 6.4% Head Teacher Assessment.
  • Girls are still ahead on both automatic test passes since the Test was changed in 2014, and also in HTAs, with the differentials widening to 26.6% girls passing to 24.3% of boys. 
  • As in previous years, the highest proportion of HTA success is in East Kent, nearly twice the lowest in West Kent.
  • There is a further increase in the proportion of children on Pupil Premium found selective to 9.8% of the Kent state school total passes. This increase is brought about through headteachers recognising ability in the HTA, where coaching is irrelevant, with 37% of all PP passes being through this route. 
  • As last year, the schools with the highest proportion of Kent successes are drawn from across the county. However, the schools are all different from last year: Bidborough CofE VC (Tunbridge ~Wells) – 69%; Stowting CofE – 67%; Bridge & Patrixbourne CofE (Canterbury) – 66%; Lady Boswell’s CofE VA (Sevenoaks); Ryarsh (Malling) – 62%; and Sheldwich (Faversham) – 62%.
  • There is yet another leap by 600 children in Out of County Passes, but going  on last year’s pattern, only around 15% of whom will apply and be offered places in Kent grammars .
  • StowtingFor more detail on each of these items, see below:

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The Rochester Grammar School is proposing to make considerable  changes to its oversubscription criteria for entry in 2019, giving priority to girls who attend one of the Trust’s four local primary schools and those with siblings who attend one of the Trust’s three local secondary schools. 

These categories will now rank above the previous priority of high scorers irrespective of residence, and so will no doubt displace some of the high scoring out of county girls, 76  of whom were allocated places at the school last March, in a welcome change of direction supporting local children.

Rochester Grammar

This reflects the considerable change in attitude across most other oversubscribed Thames side grammar schools, with the two Wilmingtons', Gravesend Grammar and Rainham Mark Grammar all having tackled what they consider an excess of London children taking up places by different strategies.

It would also further undermine the Trust’s Holcombe Grammar proposal to change from a boys’ school to become co-educational for 2019.  This been under consideration for nearly a year by the Regional Schools Commissioner with no sign of a decision yet, hopefully to be turned down for the reasons I have set out in previous articles.

I am looking at proposed changes in admission criteria for other secondary schools across Kent and Medway, and will publish these in a separate article to follow. …


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Update on Aggressive MATs and illegal Sixth Forms below
Another eleven schools have become academies in the past few months, bringing the Kent total to 84% of 100 secondary schools, and 33% of 456 primaries. In Medway 16 out of 17 secondary schools and 58 of the 79 primaries are academies. You will find all the latest changes below, along with new applications to become academies. There is a full list of Kent and Medway academies here.
The number of Multi Academy Trusts continues to proliferate, some with ever more exotic names; you will find a full list of Kent and Medway Trusts here
The government Free School programme appears to be in difficulties, with problems for some new schools of financing appropriate sites and finding suitable sponsors. There is a full list of local Free Schools here; and examples of the difficulties here.…

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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......


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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……


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