Kent’s secondary schools continue to show improvement at OFSTED with seven of the 27 inspected in the past year seeing their assessment rise up a level, against three that slipped. The new OFSTED framework that was introduced in September places an even greater importance on academic performance, so the gap between grammar and non-selective schools has widened. This has been reinforced by decisions about what government counts for GCSE performance. A number of vocational, or “lesser academic”, subjects have been cut out of the approved list, which, together with a decision to exclude re-takes, has benefited grammar schools even further and seen many non-selective schools slip in the league tables that feed OFSTED. In Medway, just one non-selective school was inspected.
However, pride of place must go to the Special School sector, with three of the six schools being awarded Outstanding status and three Good, four of these having improved their assessment.
This article covers all inspections published between September 2014 and July 2015, although there may be one or two late ones whose results won’t be published until later this month, in which case I will return and update the figures.
You will find an individual comment about each Kent secondary school here and for Medway here, the pages being updated when one of the schools on it has an OFSTED…..
Five Kent grammar schools have been inspected in the last school year 2014-15. Five have been graded Outstanding – Gravesend Grammar and Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar who have improved their grading from up from Good, together with Cranbrook School and The Judd, and one Good – Chatham and Clarendon Grammar in Ramsgate. In 2013/14 four out of the six grammars inspected were Outstanding.
Eleven non-selective schools were judged to be Good: Meopham (up two levels from Inadequate); St Augustine's Academy and St John's Catholic Comprehensive (both up from Requires Improvement); with - Malling; St George's CofE, Broadstairs; Sandwich Technology College; Thamesview; and Wrotham all unchanged from Good on their previous Inspection. Kent's three new secondary Free Schools - Hadlow Rural Community; Trinity and Wye all achieved Good on their first inspections, although I do not understand how a proper assessment can be made of these three schools as they only had two year groups at the time and no examination performance to measure achievement or progress. Altogether, the eleven schools comprise 50% of the 22 non-selective schools, as against 84% of 25 in 2013/14 (including one Outstanding) found to be Good, but the trend is still upwards as …….
along with Meopham, St Augustine’s Academy and St John's Catholic Comprehensive, The North and St Edmund’s Catholic both were taken out of Special Measures, and up to Requires Improvement. Both Meopham and The North are run by the Swale Academies Trust. Three schools slipped back: Charles Dickens in Broadstairs that was placed in Special Measures; together with Astor College (see below) and The Community College, Whitstable – both Requires Improvement.
I believe that too many no-selective schools are underrated which is why, back in March I wrote an article for Kent on Sunday entitled A selection of Good and Outstanding Kent Non-Selective Schools. Indeed, taking the last two years into account, a total of 68% of Kent non-selective schools inspected were classified as Good or Outstanding, above the 2013/14 national figure for all secondary schools. Overall 74% of Kent's secondary schools achieved this standard and, taking the excellent GCSE results into account, we can see that the overall standard of secondary education in Kent is in good health, although there are still a decreasing number of worrying pockets where much more needs to be done.
In Medway, the only OFSTED Inspection was of what is now Victory Academy, its sponsors the Thinking Schools Academy Trust having taken it over from the Diocese of Rochester, after a troubled five year tenure. It was found to Require Improvement, also its previous rating.
Astor College, Dover Federation for the Arts
The Astor decision was highly controversial, with it initially being placed in Special Measures by OFSTED before it was decided the Inspection had not been finished and a second or continued Inspection took place in July, presumably allowing the school to address some of the issues initially identified. Coincidentally, the only other school I am aware of where this has happened is Duke of York's Military Academy, also in Dover, which shares the same Executive Principal. The Report still remains critical requiring the college to: ensure that teaching supports at least good learning in all subjects, throughout Key Stages 3 and 4 and in the sixth form; improve the impact of leadership and management on students’ achievement; and undertake an external review of governance in order to assess how leadership and management may be improved. Principal Ed Pallant has paid the price and has departed from his post. Acting Principal of Astor College is Mrs Sue Knight-Fotheringham, Currently Principal of White Cliffs Primary College for the Arts, part of the Dover Federation fro the Arts, with a career in primary education.
In spite of the fine performance of Kent's secondary schools, the Special School sector is certainly Kent's pride year on year. All three Outstanding schools have seen an improvement in classification up from Good: Five Acre Wood, Maidstone; Meadowfields, Sittingbourne; and Ridge View, Tonbridge. Portal House, Dover; and St Anthony's, Canterbury have maintained their Good assessment, with Oakley, Tunbridge Wells, up to Good from Requires Improvement. Rivermead School is the only Medway Special School to be inspected last year and maintained its Good OFSTED grading.