Medway Council hits back at government over education criticisms
Education bosses in Medway are challenging the government over criticisms of their record of running schools.
It comes in the wake of Chatham Grammar School for Boys going into special measures and after primary school results in the borough were rated the worst in England.
Medway Council is hitting back after a letter from Ofsted this week following its blitz on the area when it inspected 10 schools in a week.
In addition to Chatham facing the humiliation of becoming only the second grammar in the country to be put into special measures, five primaries and the Bishop of Rochester Academy ‘required improvement’.
Cllr Mike O’Brien, who is in charge of schools, said it was “grossly unfair” that the regulators did not take into account that 15 of Medway’s 17 secondary school, including Chatham Boys Grammar, have academy status - and were no longer under the council’s control.
"Once a school becomes an academy they stand alone” - Cllr Mike O'Brien
Inspectors said the council’s “support and challenge to improve [Chatham Grammar School for Boys] since becoming an academy had been minimal”.
Cllr O’Brien said : “I think that comment is frankly a bit cheeky. That’s exactly the point I am making.
"We are here to offer help and support, but once a school becomes an academy they stand alone.”
Ofsted wrote to education director Barbara Peacock after visits to six primaries, three secondaries and the Silverbank pupil referral unit in Walderslade, which has also been rated ‘inadequate’, in June.
They also targeted a further 10 random schools in a telephone survey, which Cllr O’Brien slammed as “anonymous” and in some cases only involved one person at each school.
Overall, the inspectors are critical of Medway’s performance saying “the proportion of schools which require improvement or are inadequate remains high”.
But the findings also said it is encouraging that the two schools serving some of the Towns’ most disadvantaged pupils have maintained or achieved a “good” grade.
Miss Peacock who, recognising shortfalls is committed to improvements, said the report contained “very strong positives”.
She added: "We also have a very good strong relationship with all our secondary schools – even though 15 out of the 17 in Medway are academies.”
Ofsted now has the option to inspect Medway Council as a whole under new powers which allow it to judge school improvement across a full area. No decision has been announced should that be the case.
- More on Chatham Grammar and Silverbank Ofsted inspections in tomorrow's Medway Messenger
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