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Tuesday, 16 December 2014 00:00

Kent and Medway Key Stage Two results: Welcome improvement for Kent

The 2014 National Primary School Achievement tables have now been published showing major improvements for Kent and a slight improvement for Medway over last year.

Kent has continued its steady increase against national norms, with 79% of schools achieving Level 4 at Key Stage 2 in reading, writing and maths, the same as the national average – in 2013 Kent was 1% below, and in 2012 2% below. 19 schools had 100% of their pupils achieving this level up from last year’s twelve, details below, with particular mention for Bodsham CEP School who also came top of the county table for percentage of pupils achieving Level 5.   

Bodsham                    

Kent is also performing above the national norm: by counting Level 5 scores; and with the proportion of pupils achieving Level 4b in each of reading, writing and maths; and also in the average point score. Well done! There are also some very welcome improvements at schools I have previously criticised, such as Tree Tops Academy and Molehill Copse Primary School, details below.  Eight schools are below the government Floor Standard of 45%, a fifty per cent reduction on last year’s 16 schools although, worryingly, all but one one of these has declined in performance on last year. 

Medway, at 75% remains 4% below the national average, the same as 2013, when it was 144th out of 150 Local Authorities, and 6% below in 2012 when it was in last place, although it has now crept up to 140th, so there is improvement. What is pleasing in Medway is that there is just one school, Phoenix Junior Academy, below the Government Floor Standard of  schools achieving 45% at Level 4, whereas last year there were two. Top school is Chattenden Primary, 100% Level 4s and top of the Level 5 Table.

One has to approach the whole Key Stage 2 outcomes with caution, remembering the enormous pressure on schools to deliver, with headteachers’ jobs at stake. I talk to many Year 6 parents in state schools in the summer term each year, and habitually ask if their children have done anything interesting in school. Consistently the answer is “No, they have been practising SATs”. I doubt it’s that bad, but it is a strong indicator. The consequence is that KS2 results may be partially a reflection of the proportion of time and the coaching skills employed, rather than the real quality of the school. Nevertheless, with this caveat, KS2 results are an important indicator, published in time for primary admissions. Sadly, this year two Kent schools have seen their KS2 results suppressed by the Standards and Testing Agency for alleged cheating, such is the pressure to do well.

Further details below………

Kent Primary Schools

Six Kent schools feature in the top 200 schools nationally, rated by scoring 100% Level 4 in reading, writing and maths, along with the highest average point scores per child. In order, they are: 43rd = place) St Thomas’ Catholic Primary, Sevenoaks and Temple Ewell CofE Primary; 68) Speldhurst CofE VA Primary; 95 =) Bodsham CofE Primary and Goudhurst & Kilndown CofE Primary; and 129) Borden CofE Primary. Other schools with 100% are: Chislet CofE; Eastling; Elham CofE; Eythorne Elvington; Fordcombe CofE; Graveney; Ide Hill CofE; Offham; Rodmersham; St Thomas Catholic, Canterbury; Selsted CofE; Sholden CofE;  and Worth.  Many of the latter are smaller schools for, with the larger ones, it still takes just one low ability pupil in the whole cohort to stop a 100% performance.

Eight of these scored 100% Level 4 b in all three assessments: Borden; Eastling; Elham; Ide Hill; Rodmersham; St Thomas; Selsted and Temple Ewell. Another group of schools achieved the highest proportion of Level 5s, in order: Bodsham (75%); Ethelbert Road, Faversham; Lady Boswell’s CofE VA, Sevenoaks; St Lawrence CofE, Sevenoaks; Goudhust & Kilndown; Brabourne CofE; Temple Ewell; and Speldhurst (58%).

At the other end of the scale, Kent has a worrying eight schools below the government Floor Standard, all in the bottom 200 nationally as measured by KS2 Level four performance, with all but one  declining in performance since last year, and several of which are featured elsewhere in this website. Lowest is Drapers Mills Primary Academy with 17%, fifth worst performance in the country, and in Special Measures run by the controversial Kemnal Manor Academies Trust (TKAT).  The school achieved 67% as a county school in 2012, down to 42% as an academy in 2013.

31st lowest is Chantry Community Academy, in Gravesend, 29%, run by Meopham Community Academy, was in Special Measures until academised. Then comes Richmond Primary at 46th, in Sheerness, an academy sponsored by LilacSky, moved out of Special Measures to “Requires Improvement” in July 2013. West Kingsdown at 38% is just out of Special Measures. At 40% St John’s CofE Primary in Canterbury is surprisingly one of Kent’s most improved schools, up from just 21% last year, in Special Measures, and having had a very chequered career since it was opened in 2012, as detailed here.

Temple Grove Academy, previously Sherwood Park Primary, at 42%, is the 129th lowest result in the country.  The least popular school in Tunbridge Wells, with parents who can afford it still going private to avoid the school. It was placed in Special Measures in 2012 and taken over as  a Sponsored Academy by Temple Grove Schools Trust in January 2013, but a follow-up OFSTED Report found: The academy's curriculum is weak and poorly led. Very little attention is paid to subjects beyond English and mathematics. Senior staff predict that results at Year 6 will remain low in 2013 and 2014, especially in writing, albeit with some improvement expected in 2014”. On the contrary, KS2 results in 2013 were a respectable 52%, but have now fallen. Chairman of Governors is Chris McGovern, the outspoken Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education.

Next, at 158th comes Horizon Primary in Swanley, also managed by TKAT. As with all the other schools in this section (apart from St John’s), its performance has fallen, to 43% from 60% in 2013, against a national improvement of 4%. The final entry is Charing CofE with 44%, having also fallen sharply from 64%, along with Horizon having the distinction on this list of having a recent ‘Good’ OFSTED.

There are two Kent primary schools whose KS2 results have not been published. Kings Farm and Whitehill in Gravesend have had their results suppressed by the Standards and Testing Agency, because of allegations of wrongdoing. I understand that some 25 schools across the country have been similarly investigated, suspicions often being aroused because of unlikely sudden improvements in results of schools that may have a profile which does not fit such upsurges. Downsview Primary in Swanley has been given a 0% entry which makes no sense, and I have contacted the school to try and establish the reason.

One final word on Kent. I have been highly critical  of both Tree Tops Academy and Molehill Copse Primary School together with their academy group, AET, on previous occasions. I am delighted to report that the two schools have at last responded to the trenchant criticisms of OFSTED, Tree Tops up to 48% from 15%, and Molehill Copse up to 51% from 34%.

Medway Primary Schools

In Medway two schools, All Faiths Children’s Academy in Strood and Chattenden Primary School have achieved 100% at Level 4. All Faiths has seen a sharp increase from 53% in 2012, through 74% in 2013, a rate far greater than any other Medway school, whilst Chattenden has been pressing in both years, at 87% and 90%, and also has 100% at Level 4b across the board. Other high performing schools are: Cliffe Woods Primary and Horsted Juniors, at 92%; Barnsole and St Mary’s Island CofE (Aided) at 91% and Oaklands (Chatham)  and Pilgrim (Rochester) at 90%. St Mary’s Island has clearly emerged from its tribulations when it spiralled down into Special Measures in 2012. At Level 5 performance, Horsted Juniors comes top at 44% of all pupils achieving this level, with Twydall scoring 38%. This will come as a great relief for Twydall governors as the school, currently in Special Measures, debates whether it is to be taken over by The Thinking Schools Academy Trust.

The two lowest performing schools Phoenix Junior Academy at 42%, sponsored by the Fort Pitt Academy Trust and Warren Wood Community Primary at 45%, now sponsored by the Greenacre School Academy Trust, both made pleasing improvements from the 2013 figures. Warren Wood has had a very chequered past so it is especially good to see the improvement.

With these improvements, one has to ask why Medway has only made such a modest rise in position nationally, and remains well below the national norm. The statistics tell us that 19 out of the 67 schools have actually declined in performance levels, but otherwise we need to look at the factors revealed by the OFSTED Reports.  

Final Thoughts

  1. I have produced this analysis to inform parents looking to choose primary schools next month, who are forced to rely on OFSTED Reports and Key Stage 2 performance as their best guide to school quality. Without them, parents are left with their own observations, good for looking at the nature of the school, but lacking any objective guidance on quality, or else local reputation that can be widely adrift of the reality. So, although I dislike the undue emphasis placed on these factors, I consider them essential if we are to have sensible parental choice.  
  2. Just 25 schools in the country being investigated for falsifying KS2 results. I suspect the true figure is much greater, given both the enormous pressure on schools and headteachers to deliver and the way KS2 feeds straight into OFSTED Assessments.
  3. Early in this article I introduced the thought of preparing for SATS as a replacement for teaching, sometimes from February to May, based on parental comment. After SATs I am told: “They are not doing any work, it’s just trips and fun activities”. The consequence of this lack of academic work is the fall off in performance between primary and secondary school, although the fall-off is too often wrongly blamed solely on the long summer holiday. There must be something better!
Last modified on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 16:44

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