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Tuesday, 25 June 2013 23:16

Medway Education & Children's Services: chickens continue to come home to roost


Medway OFSTED Inspection

I understand that OFSTED is very keen for more parents to contribute to their in depth Inspection of Medway schools. One way of doing this is through Parent View for any school, which you will find here.

A press release by OFSTED published today begins: "Teams of Ofsted inspectors have today begun a week of co-ordinated inspections in Medway to find out why the city has a disproportionate number of under-performing primary schools – and whether the picture is improving. Ofsted’s latest data from the 30 April 2013, found that almost 8,000 children are attending a primary school that, at its last inspection, was judged to be less than good. That’s 29 primary schools not providing the expected level of education to young children. This is much worse than the quality of primary schools across England and is an unacceptable situation".  However, as regular browsers of this website will know, the picture is far worse than this with so many areas of the Department underperfoming or failing in their functions. Just six weeks ago, Councillor Les Wicks lost his job as Cabinet Member for Education and Children's Services after having presided over this debacle for too many years, despite calls for him to go from all sides. Other recent lowlights of Medway Council (slogan: Serving You) performance include:

 

OFSTED's Report on arrangements for the protection of children in January found the Council to be Inadequate, the lowest category, in each of the four key assessments. These are: overall effectiveness; the effectiveness of the help and protection provided to children, young people, families and carers; the quality of practice; and leadership and governance.

The stormy Medway Council full Meeting in January when the Lead Member for Education, Councillor Les Wicks maintained that Medway's exam results were good, surely the only person in the whole of Medway who could think this. My comment continued: "You will find on this site, clear evidence of many cases of Medway's inadequacy, and the washing of hands by councillors and officials of their responsibility. For example (1), (2)(3), and (4), although a search for 'Medway' on the site will find others".

Shocking KS2 results for Medway Primary SchoolsMedway primary schools continued their disgraceful performance standards with the worst Key Stage 2 results in the country in 2012. This follows the two previous years when they were also in the bottom five of all the 147 Local Authorities in the country. Just 72% of children achieved what is seen by government as the required minimum standard of Level 4 at Key Stage 2 in both English and mathematics, as against 79% in the country as a whole.

Damning Report by OFSTED Inspectorate in December 2012 on Medway Results. I wrote about OFSTED Inspections in Medway during last autumn: "Although too small a sample to draw conclusions, this table is noteworthy for two reasons. Firstly, it continues the disgraceful situation that NO Medway primary school from the 65 OFSTED Inspections I have logged has been found Outstanding by OFSTED. a shocking statistic (Kent has 19 over the same period). Secondly, the failure of Medway Council, and possible more importantly the governors of St Mary’s Island CofE Voluntary Aided School, the school with the most prosperous hinterland in the whole of Medway, who allowed it to fall into Special Measures.  I have had clients at the school over each of the past four years and have been shocked by the reports I have received. If I could see this from a distance, why did no-one in authority observe and take action on the same?" (Medway now has two Outstanding OFSTED primary schools out of the 82 Inspections I have logged - perhaps a slight improvement!).

Medway Council's inept Report on low KS2 results in primary schools. I wrote: After  Medway Council came in the bottom five Local Authorities in the country for Key Stage 2 results for the second consecutive year, according to the BBC, the Council set up 'an in-depth review' of performance. On a measure of 5GCSEs Grades A-C including English and maths, Medway school pupils achieved an average of 68%, against a national average of 74% this year. The Medway officer responsible for school standards is quoted as saying " "I don't think we are failing children but I think we could do better and we are working with the schools to do better. Since 2009 we are up three points and we are aiming to maintain that improvement.", So Medway Council considers it is not failing pupils and that being in the bottom five is an improvement over 2009!. However, with this appalling level of performance one would expect that the Report on the Review, published last week, to contain radical proposals for the Council to change its approach to improving primary school standards in the Borough. Not a bit of it! The first two of twelve recommendations make clear who the fall guys are in this analysis that contains not a single recommendation on how Medway Council might improve its own performance. Recommendation number one is that governors should have compulsory training. I do think it important that governors should be trained, providing this is of a high quality and relevant to the issues. I have carried out my own (very) small informal survey of Medway governors, asking them how they are supported to raise standards by Medway Council? The main response was blank faces". 

Medway Council's discrimination through the Medway Test I have demonstrated that the Medway Test for graamr school selection discriminates massively against boys and siginficantly against younger children in the age group. 

That is just skimming back over the past eighteen months, and these articles contain many links to other Medway debacles. I have not referred above to the Medway Test chaos of 2011 (the article contains links to previous comments), but am shortly publishing a final article here, following information prised out of Medway Council via the Information Commissioner that shows serious misreporting of some of the events which happened. In over forty years working in education, I have never seen so many parents feeling so angry, betrayed and believing they have been treated with contempt and lied to. As it is not in there brief, OFSTED will not find out about the poor quality of information regularly dispensed to telephone enquirers, neatly epitomised in the most recent bout of misinformation brought to my attention (which continues even after representations have been made to the department).  

Life is to short to list all the other failures of Medway Education and Children's Services Department chronicled both here and in local media such as the Medway Messenger, or featured on local radio and television. However a search of this website under "Medway" reveals many more such failings. 

This article began with OFSTED asking the question: "Teams of Ofsted inspectors have today begun a week of co-ordinated inspections in Medway to find out why the city has a disproportionate number of under-performing primary schools?".  I submit that the above article demonstrates conclusively that Medway Council itself must bear THE major responsibility for the shocking standards found in its schools. Matthew Coffey, Regional Director for OFSTED is quoted as saying: "Children only get one chance of an education". Sadly, for too many children in Medway they haven't even had that chance. Medway Messenger reported the previous Cabinet Member for Education as saying tothe full Council Meeting in January that the league tables were “not a position anyone’s trying to be in” but maintained Medway’s results overall were good. Improvement work was in place, he said, but it was the job of a head teacher - not a politician - to turn schools around. Presumably that remains Medway Council's position, as there has been no commnet withdrawing the view that the council has no responsibilty for this appalling provison for Medway children, making a mockery of Medway Council's slogan "Serving You". 

 

 

  

Last modified on Tuesday, 02 July 2013 10:40

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