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Thursday, 18 July 2013 21:32

Medway’s education problems mount as OFSTED Inspections carried out

As explained below, and as expected, OFSTED has carried out an in depth inspection of the Authority, backed up by 10 school inspections following Medway’s appalling primary school OFSTED and KS2 record,.

Results  of eight of these inspections have been released today, of which six are primary schools.

Of the six just one, All Faith’s Children’s Community School, has been classified as good, the other five: Fairview Community Primary School, Napier Community Primary School, Stoke Community School, Walderslade Primary School and Thames View Primary School all being found to require improvement.

All Faith’s is and has been an academy for the past year so Medway Council can hardly claim responsibility for its performance although it appears to be trying to. Not one of the six has improved its OFSTED Grade and Fairview has in fact declined from its previous “good” assessment. Medway’s press release (below) astonishingly regards this as a good outcome.

BBC South East covered this item, on SE News last night, available on i-player today (Friday). 

The facts: In December, OFSTED published its annual report for 2011-12, showing that Medway came 9th from the bottom in the whole country for OFSTED performance in its primary schools, with only 54% of its primary school inspections being Good or Outstanding, with Kent 10th from bottom at 55%. I have kept records of OFSTED Reports for both Medway and Kent for 2012-13 to date, and these reveal that of Medway’s 34 published OFSTED Reports since September, just 14, or 41%, are now good or outstanding, a sharp further fall on the previous year’s appalling performance.  If these figures had been for last year, Medway would have been placed botttom Local Authority in the whole country. OFSTED, in its explanation as to why it was Inspecting Medway made clear the reason was the poor performance of Medway primary schools in OFSTED inspections, with the latest results for each school shoiwng a total of fewer than two out of five were good or outstanding (consistent with my figures for the past year). By contrast, Kent, which publicly recognised its deficiencies, has seen its percentage of good or outstanding schools rise to 59%. Medway came bottom of the whole country in KS2 performance......

 

 

 You will find the OFSTED results of all Medway Primary Schools since September, and beneath this for the previous two years, here

Kent's improved results suggest also that there is not likely to be a national fall in standards, so Medway may well be heading for the wooden spoon unless there is a sharp upturn in OFSTED performance in July.  

It can be argued and no doubt Medway will argue, that performance  depends on the selection of schools chosen by OFSTED in a particular year, so I have analysed the data further. In Medway, just 7 of the 34 schools inspected improved their rating and 6 declined – in other words, no significant change. In sharp contrast Kent, which publicly recognised a need to improve, has seen 62 schools improve their rating, over twice as many as the 28 declined, so clearly the fault lies in Medway Council.

You will see from Medway's press release (posted immediately below this article) that most detail is given to the performance of All Faith’s, a good school which was also good in its previous inspection, but astonishingly, having been an academy for twelve months, isn’t even anything to do with Medway Council. Thoughtfully, and to the bewilderment of some who attended, Medway Council held a press conference to praise the performance of their schools at All Faith's. 

The complacency of the Council can be seen in this press release, which astonishingly calls “required to improve” as being the grade just below “good”. Please make no mistake. I am regularly asked where responsibility lies for this dreadful situation, damaging the life chances of so many Medway children each year. I have talked with several headteachers and governors over the past year and all agree that there is a poverty of support and quality of support from Medway Council.  I would not be at all surprised if government exercises the ultimate penalty and takes over the running of Medway Children’s Services (this is education and other Children’s Services, including Child Protection which was also found inadequate by OFSTED earlier this year).

OFSTED also inspected three secondary schools, including Strood Academy which it found to be “good” and Bishop of Rochester Academy “required to improve” in spite of recently having lost its third headteacher in eighteen months.

Two reports from unnamed schools remain to be published in September, as they are not yet finalised, which suggests they are being challenged – one primary and one secondary.

The big question remains: how on earth can Medway, which has highly paid officers and advisors and a considerable budget allocated to running education including school improvement, not accept responsibility for the poor standard of education for which it is responsible.

I was speaking with one headteacher only today who had chosen the academy route as they could see no benefit whatever to remaining with Medway, and they clearly are not alone. The Medway Council motto “Serving You” clearly does not apply to providing its children with a satisfactory education.

Part of OFSTED’s task in the recent inspection was to evaluate the quality of Medway Council’s Children’s Services Department, with a report due out in September. The Council must be trembling at the thought of its findings.

Medway Council Press Release on OFSTED Inspection

This also appears on the Cabinet Member's Blog, with the astonishing claim:

"Ofsted reports highlight the good work going on in Medway’s schools"

Perhaps because he is new to the job, the Cabinet Member has not been told the true state of OFSTED findings this year.   

The majority of schools that formed part of a group inspection announced by Ofsted last month have had their reports published. 

Ofsted announced it was sending inspectors to ten schools in Medway in June. It did this as it said it wanted to look at primary school education within Medway.  In order to achieve this, they visited a range of secondary academies, primaries and a pupil referral unit.  

All the schools and Medway Council have been happy to work with Ofsted to show the hard work being done by staff and pupils in each. 

Of the ten schools, three have so far been judged as good and five have been recorded as requiring improvement to be good – the grade just below good, which used to be called satisfactory. 

Three further schools are yet to have their reports finalised and these are expected to be published in September. 

Among those listed as good overall include (sic) All Faiths’ Children’s Community school, in Strood, which was marked as good for achievement of pupils and quality of teaching and outstanding for behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership and management. The school also received good at the inspection prior to this. 

The Ofsted report states: “Pupils make good progress, which is especially strong in English. This is because teaching is consistently good, and a growing proportion is outstanding. Teachers work hard to meet the particular needs of all pupils. 

It adds: “The headteacher is totally determined that all pupils achieve well, whatever their backgrounds or needs …Pupils’ behaviour is excellent both in and out of lessons …the work they do ignites their curiosity.

“Pupils have excellent attitudes to their learning. They want to do well and make good progress. They are hungry to learn.”

Strood Academy has also received a good rating, which is an improvement on the satisfactory rating the school received at the last inspection.

Fairview Community Primary and Napier Community Primary, in Gillingham, Stoke Community School, on the peninsula, Walderslade Primary, Thamesview Primary in Rainham, and the Bishop of Rochester Academy were all judged as requiring improvement to be good.

In relation to Fairview, inspectors stated ‘achievement across Key Stage 2 in recent years has not been good enough’ and that ‘teaching is not consistently good in Key Stage 2.’

However, previously unreleased indicative results for this year show an impressive 20 per cent increase in the proportion of children achieving Key Stage 2 Level four or better including reading, writing and maths.

This means that 82 per cent of children at the school have achieved at least this level, which is the key measure used nationally. This result is expected to be above the national average when released later this year.

Inspectors also gave Fairview, as well as Thames View and Stoke, a good rating for leadership and management.

In Stoke Community School’s report it also states: ‘pupils progress is good overall’ and ‘teaching is good’. It added that the school required improvement because some pupils take too many absences. The report recognises staff are taking stronger action against this.

Cllr Mike O’Brien, Portfolio Holder for Children Services, said: “I am pleased that a number of the schools recently inspected received a good rating and that inspectors recognised that staff and pupils across all the schools they visited work very hard, sometimes under challenging conditions.

“The council will continue working with all schools across the area to help drive through further improvement and to give all the help it can.”

Barbara Peacock, Director of Children and Adults Services at Medway Council, added: “I am pleased the inspectors praised the work going on in these schools and were able to see just how keen our young people are to learn and how much they enjoy school time.

“The council works closely with local schools to help bring about improvement. It is pleasing that Ofsted recognises that there is much evidence of this in all the schools they visited.”

I have been asked this evening if I am as angry as I sound on TV, about this issue. I am indeed, probably even more so, as I watch an incompetent and complacent Local Authority damage the life chances of so many Medway children for whose education they are responsible. 

Currently it appears their only strategy is to hand over as many low achieving primary schools to become academies as possible, to evade their own responsibilites. I cannot decide which is worse. 

Last modified on Monday, 22 July 2013 16:05

3 comments

  • Comment Link Saturday, 17 August 2013 20:38 posted by maddened in medway

    Medway schools appear to lack the duty of care needed towards pupils.
    SEN in Medway is horrific , with services lacking the basic concepts of disability and education and the duty to provide a 'appropriate' education for all the children.

    However it appears that despite some parents reporting complaints to the Schools , LEA and Ofsted ,nothing is done. Equality for Medway children seems illusive compared to the rest of the country and when these children turn into Adults and cannot get obtain employment and may have to rely on the public purse to support them will Medway schools be held accountable ? They jolly well should be ! PETER: My experience of Medway SEN is limited, although I have a strong interest in the subject. However, Medway Council is surely heading for the worst set of OFSTED results in the country (article to come when time permits)and so government is surely going to take robust action to resolve its problems. If Medway Council can step in and replace headteachers with its own level of incompetence, surely government can do the same for Medway Council - Your children deserve and need so much better. Even now, the new Cabinet member can only come up with a proposal to get rid of inadequate teachers. What about the inadequate officers who are paid precisely to raise standards? And indeed the councillors to whom they are accountable?

  • Comment Link Friday, 19 July 2013 10:36 posted by Jeremy Fox

    Medway Council are incompetent in so many things.

  • Comment Link Friday, 19 July 2013 08:44 posted by Lenny

    It would be a worthwhile exercise if OFSTED went back to some of those schools previously found to be OK.

    There is one school recently inspected where the result 'good' simply beggars belief in the competence of the inspection process.

    If other inspections have been as superficial and this school is supposed to be one of the 'good' ones then the problem in the area is much worse than it appears.

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