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Saturday, 25 January 2014 00:00

Kent and Medway GCSE and A Level league tables - further details

The DfE GCSE/KS4 Performance tables for Kent and Medway  give a wide range of statistics about schools in Kent and Medway which, combined with OFSTED reports, provide a very good understanding of their nature. The tables often show schools coming to the fore or disappointing, that are different to public perception. This is usually fairly accurate, as shown by popularity, but often lags a year or two behind the reality.  For example, there is a case, as explained below, for The John Wallis Church of England Academy in Ashford to be regarded as the top school in Kent, for its students make the best progress between the ages of 11 and 16, no matter where their starting point. Other contenders are The Judd School, The Rochester Grammar School, and Bennett Memorial Diocesan School. 

This article should be read in conjunction with my previous one, which gave the headline figures.  

The tables also reveal, quite logically, a strong link between schools where there is persistent absence by students, and poor performance in examinations, a link far stronger than the number of Free School Meals.  

The sections below only cover a selection of the measures used by the Department for Education to measure schools, but in my view some of the most important ones.....

 GCSE/Key Stage 4

 Value Added 

This could be regarded as the most important table of all, measuring the progress of children from the KS2 results at the end of primary school, through to GCSE. This table divides pupils into ‘disadvantaged pupils’ and ‘other pupils’.  The five schools that make most progress with disadvantaged pupils are: St George’s CofE Foundation (Broadstairs); Valley Park, Maidstone; John Wallis CofE Academy, Ashford; Aylesford School; and Wilmington Academy.  With ‘other pupils’ they are: John Wallis; Folkestone Academy; Wilmington Academy; Aylesford; and Westlands. Clearly John Wallis Cof E Academy; and Wilmington Academy make the very best progress of all schools in Kent with the children they admit, Wilmington being one of the highest performing non-selective schools as well. 

Grammar schools are sprinkled through the list, with Wilmington Grammar Girls and Barton Court being the best for their few disadvantaged pupils. However, in Medway, Fort Pitt Grammar, Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, top the table, possibly an outcome of their small numbers.  For ‘other pupils’, in Medway, only Rochester Grammar stands out, but still comes below the levels of the top Kent schools.  It is followed by Thomas Aveling and Rainham School for Girls.

 At the bottom for ‘disadvantaged pupils’ come: Swan Valley; Walmer Science College; The Archbishop’s School; Strood Academy in Medway; and Hextable. For ‘other pupils’ we have: Swan Valley; Walmer Science College; Ursuline College; and The Archbishop’s School – none in Medway this low. In summary, the worst schools in Kent for improving pupil standards are Swan Valley (now Ebbsfleet Academy but under the same management); Walmer Science College (now closed); and The Archbishop’s School in Canterbury, traditionally a highly regarded school in the city, but whose OFSTED in October rightly recognised that it ‘Requires Improvement’, no change from its previous inspection.

Expected Progress

This table looks at KS2 results in Literacy and maths and projects the expected progress in these two areas through to GCSE. The only school to see 100% of its pupils achieving at least their expected result in both English Language and mathematics is Tonbridge Grammar school.

Both Kent and Medway tables not surprisingly are dominated by the grammar schools with 29 out of the top 33 places in English ranging from 100% to 85 % of students achieving the projected result. They are interrupted only by Bennett Memorial Diocesan, Hillview School for Girls, The Malling School (doing exceptionally well with a fairly low qualified intake), and the Canterbury Academy. Then comes Maidstone Grammar School on 84% (the recent Outstanding OFSTED having picked up on the relatively disappointing English performance of previous years), Tunbridge Wells Boys’ Grammar (84%) and Borden (83%). Then comes an enormous gap, filled by 11 more non-selective schools, until one gets down to Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys at 76% (again a recent Outstanding OFSTED Report, with the English disaster noted, but glossed over).  A similar pattern in Medway, but with the Howard School and Walderslade Girls getting in amongst the grammars, the two causing concern being Chatham Grammar Girls (76%), and Chatham Grammar Boys (74%). At the bottom are Castle Community, Marlowe, Hextable and Swan Valley in Kent and Bishop of Rochester in Medway.  

In mathematics there is a similar pattern, this time with Wilmington Academy breaking into the grammar school ranks at 91%, but with Dover Grammar Boys at 78% (OFSTED criticising its maths standards) and Borden at 73% being cast adrift. In Medway, all six grammars score highly, there being a sizeable gap down to Rainham Girls and Thomas Aveling. At the bottom are Swan Valley, High Weald, Marlowe, Spires Academy and Astor College, all below any Medway schools.  

 Three Year Average

 Looks at the results over the past three years, evening out the occasional weak year group or other blip passing through.

 All six Medway Grammar schools score 96% or more, a better record than in Kent, where although 7 grammar schools average 100%, at the other end 8 achieve less than 96% over the three years which is frankly just not good enough. The 100%s are headed up by Folkestone School for Girls, serving an area with plenty of deprivation, as distinct from the others – four from West Kent: Judd, Skinners, Tonbridge Grammar and Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar, along with Invicta in Maidstone. The bottom group are all from East Kent: Norton Knatchbull, Ashford; Borden, Sittingbourne; Dover Boys; the three Thanet grammars - Chatham House, Clarendon House (now combined as Chatham and Clarendon Grammar  School) and Dane Court, Broadstairs; and Simon Langton Boys, Canterbury.

Top Kent non-selectives are the two Tunbridge Wells church comprehensive schools, Bennett Memorial Diocesan  and St Gregory’s Catholic (both giving priority to practising Christians). These are followed in order by: Wrotham; St Simon Stock Catholic, Maidstone, Hillview Girls, Tonbridge; Leigh Academy, Dartford; Westlands, Sittingbourne; and Wilmington Academy all 60% or above. Top Medway non-selective schools are Howard School and Rainham School for Girls with an average of 60%.

 At the bottom are all the usual suspects, from the bottom: Marlowe Academy, Ramsgate (23%); Swan Valley Community (now Ebbsfleet Academy - 29%); Dover Christ Church Academy; High Weald Academy, Cranbrook; Walmer Science College (now closed); Spires Academy, Sturry; New Line learning Academy, Maidstone; and Hextable (36%). Apart from Walmer, all are now academies. In Medway, the only one below 38% is The Bishop of Rochester Academy (27%).

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

The percentage of students who do not have English as their main language who pass 5 GCSEs A-C including English and maths. It will come as no surprise to find the top places are dominated by the 29 Kent and Medway grammar schools who have EAL children, with only Longfield and Wilmington Academies getting into the top places. No surprise to see Marlowe, High Weald, Isle of Sheppey and Swan Valley at the other end.

 Sixth Form studies

 A Level

 The A Level tables for Kent and Medway are skewed according to the widely varying academic requirements for students entering the sixth from, as many schools seek to achieve the best results in the league tables. Some allow students to progress only in subjects where they will achieve high grades, as forecast from the AS Levels taken after one year in the Sixth Form. Others work to lose the weakest students at this time! Many go mixed or else admit large numbers of students from other schools; others lose their brightest!

 There are at least ten different tables allowing media outlets to publish the one that suits their aims best. I have selected several that I feel best reflect school performance, given all the above .

 Academic progress from GCSE to A Level, in my view the best indicator: Highest: Rochester Grammar; Norton Knatchbull; Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar; Cranbrook; St Gregory’s Comprehensive; Tunbridge Wells Grammar Boys; Wilmington Grammar Boys; Harvey Grammar. Lowest Grammar: Maidstone Grammar; Simon Langton Girls.

 Average point score per A Level entry Highest: The Judd; Dartford Grammar; Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar; Rochester Grammar; Tonbridge Grammar; Skinners; Cranbrook; Dartford Girls; Invicta Grammar; Highsted Grammar. Highest non-selective: Bennett Memorial, St Simon Stock Catholic; Westlands, St Gregory’s Catholic; Hillview Girls. Lowest grammar: Dover Boys.

 Percentage of students achieving 3 A-E’s at A Level. 100%: Dartford Girls; Highsted; Invicta; Maidstone Girls; Rochester Grammar; Tonbridge Grammar; Tunbridge Wells Girl’s. Highest non-selective: Bennett Memorial (89%); St Gregory’s Catholic (86%). In Medway: Rainham Girls (58%). Lowest Grammar: Dover Boys (88%), Chatham Boys (85%).  

 3 A Levels at Grades AAB or better: Judd (45%); Skinners (30%); Cranbrook (23%); Sir Roger Manwood’s (21%); Simon Langton Boys (21%); Tonbridge Grammar (17%); Tunbridge Wells Girls’ (17%); Rochester Grammar (16%). Highest non-selective: Bennett Memorial (10%); St Gregory’s (6%). Lowest grammar: Wilmington Girls (1%), Fort Pitt (2%).  

Advanced Vocational  Scores: Government veers between promoting vocational courses and the academic rigour of some GCE/GCSE courses. Rainham School for Girls comes third in the whole country, the top Kent schools being Aylesford School and St George’s Church of England Foundation school, Broadstairs who came 23rd and 24th in the national table. The Thomas Aveling School in Rochester (46th), Herne Bay High School (54th) and The Howard School, Rainham (64th) are also in the top 100, a very high proportion, especially of Medway non-selective schools. In the week that a further approval for the Medway University Technical College is given, it is clear that high level vocational education already thrives locally.

 Other Tables

 Persistent Absence

 This is a table of schools measuring the percentage of pupils with 15% or more absences during the year. Worst is Isle of Sheppey with 16.7% of its children missing at least one school day out of every seven. Classes at the school must be very disrupted with so many children missing out on continuity of lessons. Other schools above 10% include most of the names towards the bottom of other tables above: The Marsh Academy, Dover Christ Church Academy, Hextable School, Spires Academy, Walmer Science College, Swan Valley Community School, Pent Valley Technology College, High Weald Academy, and The Marlowe Academy.

 Free School Meals (FSM)

 The oft repeated claim that grammar schools have only 3% of children on Free School Meals is scotched by the tables, with Chatham and Clarendon Grammar  (14.6%); Dane Court 13.3%; Dover Boys 12.5%; Harvey 12.0%; Folkestone Girls 11.6%; Dover Girls 9.9% Borden 9.9%.(all in East Kent!). Also the six Medway Grammar schools, ranging  from 8.1% to  13.8%. Just 5 out of 33 Kent grammar schools are under the 3% claimed figure. Non-selective schools with the lowest FSM children are : Duke of York’s 4.1%,  Bennett 7.5%, Simon Stock 13.0% and St Gregory’s 13.2%.

At the other end are Marlowe 57.0%, Hartsdown 56.1%, Orchards 53.6%, John Wallis 47.7%, and New Line Learning 45.5%. Of these, all but Marlowe are above the 40% GCSE threshold, showing  that schools with a large proportion of disadvantaged pupils can still achieve academic success. In Medway all non-selective schools have at least 22% FSM, with Bishop of Rochester highest at 51.6%. 

 

 

Last modified on Saturday, 24 May 2014 19:59

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