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Home Kent News Article
by political editor Paul Francis
Children in Kent and Medway have less chance of going to a good or outstanding primary school than most other parts of the country, according to a report by Ofsted.
The two areas are among the bottom 10 ranked by Ofsted on the basis of the number of good or outstanding primary schools as decided by inspectors' ratings.
In Kent, 55% of children attend a good or outstanding primary while in Medway, the figure is 54%.
That contrasts with the London borough of Camden with a figure of 92%, East Sussex with 70% and Essex with 61%.
Kent and Medway are also behind some of London's most disadvantaged boroughs on Ofsted's ranking - including Haringey (58%) and Brent (66%).
According to Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, the figures point to what he described as "unacceptably wide variations in the perfomance of
"for just 55% of pupils to be at good or outstanding schools is not good enough...” – cllr mike whitingschools in different parts of England."
He said: "We'll be looking very carefully at what's happening in those local authorities with the same sort of population, with similar levels of deprivation, similar numbers of children on free school meals, where one particular local authority does extremely well and another one doesn't."
He added: "We'll be asking a question: why is it parents in some parts of the country have less than a 50% chance of getting their children into a good primary school where there are other parts of the country where that chance is over 90%?"
Kent County Council said there are signs its primary schools are improving and beginning to close the gap.
Provisional Key Stage Two results - tests taken by children in their final year of primary education - show 78% of pupils achieved the expected level of attainment this year in English and maths, an improvement of 5.9 % on 2011.
At the same time, Kent was getting closer to its so-called statistical neighbours, which are authorities with similar social demographic make-ups.
The best-performing area similar to Kent saw 81% of pupils achieve the expected level in their primary tests, a gap of 3% compared to 7% in
Cllr Mike Whiting, KCC cabinet member for education, said: "For just 55% of pupils to be at good or outstanding schools is not good enough.
"It is not news to the council that this is the situation, and that is why we have been taking such a vigorous approach to making improvements across the county over the last year.
"Other indicators, such as Key Stage 2 results and more recent Ofsted inspections, suggest our approach is working and we are going in the right direction. I expect this to continue. In fact, I would expect a future report like this one to reflect the improvements that are taking place in the county."
Barbara Peacock, Medway's director of children and adult services, said: "Improving educational standards in Medway is of the utmost importance and we are working intensively with schools where improvements are needed to ensure that they progress as quickly as they can.
"This includes working closely with local authorities and other partners where there is outstanding practice, helping schools to raise standards in subjects such as English and mathematics and recruiting ambitious headteachers that are focused on securing improvement.
"There are a number of primary schools in Medway that are already doing much better, with some of the most improved seeing a 30% rise in their Key Stage 2 English and mathematics results in just one year. We are using these to help share best practice across the area.
"We fully accept that there is more to be done to raise attainment and ensure every school provides the best outcomes for its pupils."
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