Updated with Government Press Statement
Inspire Special Free School, the only Free School in Medway, based in Chatham, has been placed in Special Measures by OFSTED following an Inspection in January, less than two years after opening. You will find the full headlines of the Report later on in this article.
The then struggling Silverbanks Centre, a Pupil Referral Unit, was broken up into two parts in September 2014, following an OFSTED Inspection that failed the Unit, judging it to have Serious Weaknesses. Inspire, which was set up as a Free School strongly supported by Medway Council, and currently catering for 37 children with social, emotional or mental health needs has failed spectacularly, with leadership and management at all levels judged inadequate and a highly qualified governing body not fully understanding the issues faced by these same leaders, nor recognising that the quality of teaching and learning has declined.
The Anti Academies Alliance is reporting increased resistance to enforced academisation, as typified by Twydall Primary School in Gillingham. The school was placed in Special Measures by OFSTED back in March and has had two critical OFSTED Monitoring Reports since then, although Key Stage 2 results in the summer were good. The headteacher resigned shortly after the second Monitoring Inspection, the Chairman of Governors having resigned earlier, both actions appearing to free up governors to take positive actions to improve the school in their efforts to take it out of Special Measures.
The Governing Body has since been the centre of much activity, as Medway Council is attempting to impose the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT), headed up by The Rochester Grammar School and All Faiths Children’s Community Primary school, as sponsors. It appears that governors are not unhappy with the concept of becoming a sponsored academy, but are increasingly resistant to this being TSAT. Allegations that two members of the Governing Body who have now resigned, had conflicts of interest with TSATs involvement, the replacement Chairman also facing controversy over his role, have not helped.
The arrival of an Interim Headteacher, Mrs Ann Pratt, with an excellent record and clear ideas for turning the school round appears to have had a very positive effect on the school, along with a more united and focused governance, which is now very open with parents about its activities, including a full written consultation, about academisation. The Governing Body section of the school website is a model of its kind, including copies of GB Minutes, and indeed the whole website now projects a very transparent and positive image of the school. A Facebook page about the consultation contains some very frank comments about perceptions of TSAT……
Monitoring OFSTED Inspections for Charles Dickens School in Ramsgate and Stansted CofE Primary School, in Sevenoaks District, south of Gravesend both of which have previously been placed in Special Measures, are published today. For Charles Dickens, it is very good news, for Stansted, the writing is surely on the wall for its future.
Looking at today’s very positive Report, one of the briefest I have ever seen indicating the very low level of concern by the OFSTED, it is almost impossible to visualise the same school as was observed just three months previously. This was a ‘Good’ school, as established by the previous OFSTED in 2011, and still is. Further comment below.
Again, further comment below.
The two Reports between them raise many issues, the most important of which are:
1) There was enormous support for Charles Dickens, its standards and headteacher after the original Inspection. The appearance of the Chief Inspector at the school during the inspection suggests there was another agenda, and this Monitoring Report seriously undermines the findings of that Inspection. I still have confidence in the findings of most OFSTED Inspections, which tend to fit other evidence, but this situation serves to undermine the whole process, never mind the unnecessary damage it has caused the school.
2) KCC has installed a number of temporary leaders at Stansted, but the school’s decline, which now appears terminal, appears to be in part due to the performance of the two Interim Headteachers, both appointed by KCC. Where is the quality control here?
Kings Farm Primary School in Gravesend has been placed into Special Measures by OFSTED in what must be the unique circumstances of: missing performance data, allegations of wrongdoing, multiple investigations by the authorities, suppressed KS2 results, public protest by parents, self-reporting of safeguarding issues by the school, and a staff turnover of around two thirds shortly before the Inspection. OFSTED is required to make its judgments on the school as it is, and yet this Report is massively influenced by the dreadful period from January to July 2014 when the school had a temporary Executive Headteacher who was removed by KCC over the summer.
First the good news:
A new Consultant Headteacher was appointed in September. OFSTED reports:
"The consultant headteacher has made an excellent start. She is very clear about what needs to be done. The school is more stable and there is an air of optimism. Senior leadership is being strengthened rapidly. The school provides well for pupils’ personal and social development. The consultant headteacher has taken decisive steps to improve behaviour in lessons and around the school. As a result, there have been no exclusions this term, and most pupils show enthusiasm for learning. Relationships with parents and carers are improving rapidly. All procedures for the safeguarding of pupils have been reviewed and are now secure.".
"It is not possible to report whether the school met government floor standards in 2014, as the 2014 school data for the achievement of Year 6 pupils has been suppressed by the Standards Agency, pending investigation. Most of the school’s data on pupils’ past performance cannot be located. The local authority considers the submitted data for the Early Years Foundation Stage in 2014 to be inaccurate. Consequently, the school has little information on pupils’ achievement in reading, writing and mathematics. No evaluation of the impact of pupil premium expenditure was carried out in the last school year. The inspection team was aware during the inspection of several ongoing investigations by the appropriate authorities into allegations of wrongdoing. A review of safeguarding was carried out by the local authority, at the school’s request, in September 2014. The school community has experienced extensive disruption and instability recently. There has been considerable discontent among the staff, culminating in significant changes in staffing. Parents and carers have publicly demonstrated their lack of confidence in the school leadership. These matters, the rapid deterioration in standards, and the ongoing investigations have adversely affected morale and contributed to wholesale changes in leadership and management".......
Charles Dickens School in Broadstairs has been placed in Special Measures by OFSTED, just three years after being found “Good”. This follows the even sharper decline of Castle Community College in Deal, from “Outstanding” to Special Measures in March, but is all the more surprising as there appeared few signs of decline to the outsider, with very good GCSE results in previous years, a well established headteacher with a good reputation and parents queuing up to send their children to the school.
However, as I warned in a previous article, the new GCSE regime, along with a new Inspection regime, is going to provide Kent’s non-selective schools with a strong challenge.
Academically, the school steadily improved its confirmed 5 GCSE A-C including English and maths to a sound 53% in 2013, and the Report notes that the school has reached the government’s current floor standard of 40%, which sets minimum standards for attainment and progress. However, along with the large majority of Kent’s non-selective schools, there has been a strong dip for the unconfirmed 2014 results to 34%, connected with the changes in GCSE result calculation. This will have played its part in influencing the decision.
The problem I have with this Report is that whilst it reads as the most critical I have ever read of a Kent secondary school (worse even than Castle), it almost appears to have lost objectivity and to be deliberately vindictive: “boys’ shirts are often hanging out untidily”! hardly the stuff of serious reporting. This sense is compounded by the fact that the Inspection Team invited the Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, to join them on the second day of the Inspection, or was it that the findings of the team were so awful, they needed him to see them for himself?
So what are the key issues? The reality is that this is a damning Report, with copious evidence cited to back it up:.....
The complete set of OFSTED Reports for 2013-14 have now been published and they confirm the very different fortunes of primary, secondary and special schools across Kent and Medway. I published the outcomes of secondary and special schools in a previous article and this one now looks at underperfoming primary sector. Another article highlights failings in both Authorities part way through the year.
Leaders of both Authorities are fond of quoting the combined results of the three sectors, as they hide the gulf between the excellent performance of secondary and special schools which are mainly academies, independent of the Local Councils, and the disappointing, in some cases shocking outcomes of primary schools as a whole, mainly run by the Local Authorities. In response to a previous article on disappearing primary headteachers, the KCC representative falsely claimed that the 80% Good or Outstanding Inspection results this year proved that KCC’s policy was working. In fact, with 81% of 26 secondary schools, 80% of 10 special schools and 54% of the 128 primary schools achieving Good or Outstanding, the overall figure is just 60%, well short of the claimed figure.
A full set of statistics is given below, with a KCC analysis, consistent with the results in this article, available here. OFSTED results for every Kent and Medway Primary School are also provided on the website.
First the good news......
First the good news: Kent's secondary school OFSTED outcomes are well above national averages, with 90% of non-selective schools inspected this year being classified Good or Outstanding.
Then there is the primary news. In Kent, there are five outstanding primary schools, but 12 inadequate, over three times the national average. Overall, no improvement on low standards.
And finally: Medway primary schools dreadful again; 8 schools have been awarded a lower grade than before, just two better, none Outstanding........
The following table shows the miserable performance of Warren Wood Primary School at OFSTED Inspections over the past ten years. It includes FOUR Ofsted failures (three Special Measures, one Requires Improvement), three Inadequate Progress Inspections following Special Measures, just one Satisfactory OFSTED, one Good progress from Special Measures and two Satisfactory Progress Inspections following Special Measures or Requires Improvement.
Warren Wood Primary School
History of OFSTED Inspections
|Special Measures||June 2004|
|Good progress since SM||Nov 2005|
|Requires Improvement||May 2008|
|Satisfactory progress since RI||Jan 2009|
|Special Measures||Jul 2009|
|Inadequate progress since SM||Jan 2010|
|Inadequate progress since SM||May 2010|
Inadequate progress since SM
Satisfactory progress since
previous Monitoring Inspection
Satisfactory progress since SM
That is a decade of an appalling standard of education offered to pupils of Warren Wood Primary School. However, Medway Council continued to maintain in its most recent responses to my reporting of the disgraceful performance of the Council that: it has nothing to apologise for; it is doing alright (citing the exam performance of the secondary academies); that its School Improvement Department is excellent, and that any problem is down to the academies (which are mainly secondary schools, so its not!). OFSTED results of Medway Council controlled primary schools since September are as follows:
|Medway Primary School OFSTED Outcomes September 2013 to January 2014|
% of schools
% of schools
In 2012- 13 Medway Council was the worst but one Local Authority in the country, on the proportion of Good or Outstanding primary school OFSTED outcomes. For the current school year it appears fractionally better, but in fact is much worse, as five out of six schools that changed their classification have actually got worse, compared to one that became better.
Also this week has come the news that Napier Primary School, referred to previously, has had a second Monitoring Inspection, the conclusion being: "Evidence indicates the school has not improved quickly enough since the last monitoring inspection in October 2013. You have started to act on the recommendations made at that visit but too little is securely in place" ......
Since my previous article on the fate of Chatham Grammar following its failed OFSTED back in June, only the second grammar school in England to be placed in Special Measures, there have been dramatic and controversial changes at the school. A monitoring Inspection by OFSTED in October clearly approved of developments, one Facebook page run by parents tells a very different story, but a second one apparently run by responsible students tells another. Newsletters published by the school describe some of the factual changes, and I have also been kept informed by worried parents and prospective parents providing me with information and seeking advice.
The OFSTED Report and school information show that the governance of the school has passed to the RGS/AFS Thinking Schools Trust.
The latest OFSTED Report on Shoreham Village School, which was published earlier this week placing the school in Special Measures, is possibly the most scathing I have ever read. The school is found inadequate in every category: achievement of pupils; quality of teaching; behaviour and safety of pupils, and leadership & management. This is a dramatic turnaround from the previous inspection of 2010 when the school was judged to be good. Shoreham is just north of Sevenoaks with an annual intake of just 15 and fills each year, in spite of the problems.
Typically of failing schools, there are staffing problems: “At the time of the inspection the substantive headteacher was on long-term sick leave. Four members of staff began working in the school in September 2013, including an acting headteacher who is providing support to the school for three days a week temporarily”. This is in spite of “Arrangements to lead it temporarily have gained the confidence of parents, staff, governors and pupils”, confirming that the problems are not primarily related to the new staff appointed.
It is clear from the Leadership & Management section where the problems are located.......