Published: 10:00, 04 December 2018
| Updated: 18:57, 04 December 2018
by Ismail Khwaja
Primary schools in part of Kent have been ranked among the 10 worst in the country, according to new findings by education inspectors.
Ofsted’s annual report shows as of August this year, Medway is 142 out of 151 local authorities – 78% of the schools in the area are judged good or outstanding, which is below the national average of 87%.
It is the same percentage for Medway’s secondary schools, which represents a 5% fall since the end of August 2017.
However, 90% of primary schools in Kent were rated good or outstanding, which is up by 1% from August last year and 3% above the national average.
For secondary schools in Kent, 86% were given top ratings– well above the national average of 75% and it was also 3% higher than the regional average.
Chris Russell, Ofsted’s south east director, said: “I’m really pleased that, in the south east, we have maintained our high education standards and care for children in early years, school, and post 16.
“This consistency is no mean feat and is a true testament to the hard work of staff, teachers, children and parents.
Video: Ofsted South East regional director Chris Russell
“But, miring the success is the fact that we are not doing well enough for children who need extra support, including those on free school meals and those with special education needs and/or disabilities (SEND).”
Ofsted has asked for a statement of action from Medway Council in light of its concerns about services for SEND children.
Mr Russell continued: “Obviously we have raised some issues that need attention. The fact we have raised them, it’s in the public domain, so people can have some reassurance then that we will be talking to the local authority and we’ll be going back to check on it.
“Hopefully that’s reassurance to parents that it may not be where it needs to be yet, but at least parents know we have identified it and the local area will be on to sorting those issues out.”
“In the south east, children on free school meals are not catching up fast enough with their classmates.
“This is a sticking point and, while there have been some improvements, the education gap between children from poorer backgrounds and their peers remains wide.
When it comes to reading, writing and maths, 66% of pupils achieved the expected standard by age 11, while it was 62% in Medway.
Additionally, provisional data at secondary level shows under the EBacc measure, 44% of pupils in Kent secured five or more GCSEs in the core subjects including maths and English, against a south east average of 46%. It was 42% in Medway.
Mr Russell hails that inspection as a "real celebration”.
He said: “One of the greatest things as an inspector is to go into that sort of situation and see where a real turnaround has happened there.
“It’s one thing to go in and see it on an inspection, it’s another thing to actually make that happen.
“It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of commitment and a lot of aspiration – a fantastic turn around.”
Cllr Andrew Mackness, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, said: “We are committed to giving children the best start in life and Medway’s primary schools have been showing excellent progress and have continued to improve since 2015. Based on the performance of all primary schools over the last four years we have climbed from 150th to 101st.
We are focussed on building on this progress to ensure all children and young people in Medway receive the best education possible. Of the 98 schools inspected this year 87.5 per cent have an Ofsted rating of good or better which is up from 83 per cent last year.
“Provisional data for Key Stage 2 combined reading, writing and maths results indicates that our local authority maintained primary schools achieved 64 per cent of pupils met the required standard or above this year, with academies achieving 58 per cent.
“We have a responsibility for all young people in Medway and we consistently raise the issues of standards in academy primary schools with the Regional Schools Commissioner as well as continuing to support and challenge our local authority maintained schools.
“School improvement is one of our main priorities and the support we offer is clearly demonstrating improvements and success for pupils given the results we are achieving. I would like to congratulate school leaders, children and parents for their successes and the improvements that they continuing to deliver.”