GCSE Results for Kent published last week show that Kent schools were below the National Average of -0.03 in the governments key measure Progress 8 at -0.11. However, they were ahead in Attainment 8 at 47.2 against the national figure of 46.6, as explained below. The table is finalised in January, allowing for various adjustments.
Girls’ schools make a clean sweep the top eight places in the Progress 8 table, the government’s key measure of performance, with Bennett Memorial Diocesan and seven grammar schools. Highworth shows the greatest consistency being second for the past two years.
Bennett continues to dominate both non-selective tables, ahead of 28 grammar schools in Progress 8, followed as usual by St Simon Stock, and in the past three years Meopham. The only new non-selective school arriving in the list of best performers is the previously struggling Cornwallis Academy. Biggest turnaround is by Holmesdale (see below).
Borden Grammar is by some way the lowest performing grammar school at Progress 8, being Below Average, and also at the foot of the Attainment 8 table. Worryingly, there are 20 non-selective schools Well Below Average and below the government’s Floor Level of -0.50, up from 15 in 2018. At the foot of both tables comes Hartsdown Academy, lowest performing Attainment 8 and fourth lowest school at Progress 8 in the country. The 20 schools below Floor Level include many regularly low performers, but also now: Thamesview; Archbishops; Fulston Manor; Hayesbrook; Hugh Christie; and St Augustines.
Who could not have got it more wrong when he said on his school website: ‘We are celebrating our best ever year for results at GCSE in Year 11”? Answer below.
You will find performance tables and further information and analysis below.
The key measure of GCSE performance is Progress 8 (full Kent table here) which looks at progress from the end of primary school to the end of Year 11 and is rightly given priority by government in measuring performance.
This is the fourth year of the new assessments for measuring school performance which replaced the long established 5 A*-C GCSE league table including English and maths. The lettered grades have now been replaced by levels 1-9+, nine being the highest. There is growing evidence that the grading method favours the most academic schools, as seen by the gap opening between grammar and non-selective performance in the Kent tables
Both Progress 8 and Attainment 8 are measured by an arcane formula combining results in eight curriculum subjects to produce numbers whose meaning and spread is very difficult to comprehend, but enables schools to be placed in an order. They are measured across eight subjects, English maths, 3 qualifications from sciences, computer science, history, geography and languages, and 3 other additional approved qualifications. For Progress 8 there is a target national average score of 0, with the great majority of schools being between +1 and -1. The government Floor Standard, or expectation is to be above -0.5, in which case “the school may come under increased scrutiny and receive additional support”, and 20 Kent secondary schools fail to meet this. There are further details of the outcomes below along with a look at ‘Grade 5 or above in English and Maths‘ and Ebacc to choose from to suit your case. You will find a good explanation of all these matters here.
To assist those looking for information on secondary school transfer, I will shortly publish the parallel article on Medway GCSE outcomes. I have also published 2019 school appeals and the 2019 Kent Test for grammar school admissions. The Panel on the right of this article also offers information and advice items on: Kent Secondary School Admissions; Kent Grammar Schools; Kent Grammar School Appeals; Oversubscription Appeals; and information on Individual Kent Secondary Schools amongst others.
Kent GCSE Performance 2019
Since 2018, Tonbridge Grammar has fallen out of the top grammars in this table and Maidstone Girls Grammar and Folkestone School for Girls have arrived.
|Grammar School Progress 8 Scores for 2019|
|All Well Above Average||Below Average|
|Tunbridge Wells Girls||0.97||Queen Elizabeth’s||-0.09|
|Weald of Kent||0.95||Chatham & Clarendon||-0.08|
|Maidstone Girls||0.84||Dover Boys
|Invicta||0.83||Tunbridge Wells Boys||-0.02|
|Folkestone Girls||0.77||Dane Court||0.05|
At the foot of the table, the embarrassment of Simon Langton Boys and Queen Elizabeth’s being Below Average have vanished, with Harvey, Maidstone Grammar and Simon Langton, having climbed out, to be replaced by Dane Court and Tunbridge Wells Boys.
|Non-Selective Progress 8 Scores for 2019|
|Well Above Average||
Well Below Average and
below Floor Level of -0.5
|St Simon Stock Catholic||0.65||Royal Harbour
Duke of York’s
|Dover Christ Church
|St John’s Catholic||0.40||Astor College
|Skinners Kent Academy||0.26||Archbishops||-0.73|
|Cornwallis Academy||0.18||Fulston Manor||-0.72|
|Hillview Girls||0.20||High Weald||-0.68|
|St Gregory’s Catholic||0.14||Hugh Christie||-0.65|
|St George’s CofE, Gravesend||0.1||Oasis Sheppey||-0.61|
As I observed last year, all on the list must all be concerned at their performance which will itself hinder future recruitment of the quality staff and leaders needed to improve matters. This is exemplified by Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey, which in the year in question had just two thirds of its teachers with Qualified Teacher status.
I have written before about Hartsdown Academy, whose make up is described in the Ofsted Report of 2017 as: Pupils’ standards on entry to Hartsdown are well below the national average. When the present Year 7 pupils arrived, the great majority of them had reading ages below those typical for their age, and poor skills in mathematics. A very high proportion of pupils are vulnerable and/or disadvantaged. An above-average number of them leave and enter the school after Year 7. All these factors inhibit progress and, in the past, have had a negative impact on the school’s GCSE results. In recent years the proportion of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds has increased to at least one-third of Year 11 in 2017. Often, these pupils do not speak English on arrival or have not experienced formal education. With very low starting points and poor attendance, these pupils’ progress is well below that of other pupils’. My article on the Report also describes its controversial headteacher, whose leadership would apparently turn the school around. Self-evidently he is failing to do so, with the lowest Attainment 8 in the country, and fourth lowest Progress 8 (excluding UTCs which recruit into Year 10). Further articles (easily accessible through my search engine) look at the subsequent bottom of the table performance of the school. The fantasy world that Hartsdown Academy exists in can be judged by its comment on this year’s disastrous GCSE performance. From the school website at the time of writing: ‘Hartsdown Academy Year students have been celebrating success in their GCSEs today, as the school produced yet another year of improved results….Head of KS4, Ms Rigden, said “It has been a fantastic two years working with this group of dedicated and aspirational young people. The Year 11 staff and I are delighted to be able to celebrate with our students after another increase in GCSE results.” Headteacher Matt Tate adds, “This has been a fantastic year for Hartsdown Academy. We are celebrating our best ever year for results at GCSE in Year 11″. To remind Mr Tate, lowest Attainment in the country, and fourth lowest Progress 8!!!!!!!
There must also be concern amongst the high number of previously apparently sound schools that have joined the list this year: Thamesview; Archbishops; Fulston Manor; Hayesbrook; Hugh Christie; and St Augustine’s.
I am utterly bemused by the appearance of Thamesview, Fulston Manor and St Augustine’s. I wrote an article about The Archbishop’s School earlier this year examining its decline. Boys in Tonbridge have no realistic alternative to Hayesbrook or Hugh Christie, both declining for some years. In 2015 Hayesbrook was the fourth best performing non-selective school in Kent. Last year, I wrote an article about the Brook Learning Trust which looked at the troubles which beset all its three schools, including Hayesbrook and High Weald. I summarised my view of this school as: ‘A disaster area by every single measure above‘. Goodwin Academy was run into the ground by the appalling SchoolsCompany Trust, which has now been closed by government, and the school taken over by the Thinking Schools Academy Trust from Medway, so there may be improvement.
Earlier this year government published a list of what it called Coasting Schools, defined as: ‘A coasting School is one which has scored under -0.25 in Progress 8 for three consecutive years’, and which attracted government support ,called ‘intervention’ although this measure has now been scrapped. Schools which appear not to have got the message and have gone backwards are: Archbishop’s and Hugh Christie; also Homewood which, although not in this table has just been given Requires Improvement, by Ofsted, down from Good. Aylesford; Holmesdale; and The North all appear to have got the message and shown improvement, the last two having been driven by Swale Academies Trust!
|Grammar School Attainment 8 Scores 2019|
|Dartford Girls||75.3||Tunbridge Wells Boys||60.5|
|Tunbridge Wells Girls||73.7||Oakwood Park||61.5|
|Weald of Kent||72.3||Highsted||62.5|
|Non-Selective Attainment 8 Scores 2019|
|Duke of York’s||52.4||Royal Harbour
|Trinity||51.1||Dover Christ Church||30.9|
|St Simon Stock Catholic||50.7||High Weald||32.0|
|Wye||49.5||Oasis Isle of Sheppey
|Hillview Girls||47.0||St Edmund’s Catholic||33.0|
|Valley Park||45.0||New Line Learning||33.3|
Skinners Kent Academy
This is a third measure towards which the government was trying to nudge schools, by measuring the percentage of pupils taking GCSE in five specific subject areas: English, maths, a science, a language, and history or geography. It is designed to encourage schools towards more academic subjects and away from those thought intellectually easier, which government considers is an easy way to score, although Progress 8 and Attainment 8 already go some way towards that.
In 2017 no grammar schools had 95% or more of their pupils qualifying, for 2018 it rose to 12 schools as they respond to government pressure but has slipped back to eight for 2019 perhaps with the realisation it has limited intrinsic value. Highworth (99.5%); Invicta, Tonbridge, Norton Knatchbull and Dartford (all 99%); Gravesend, Highsted and Dover Girls (all 98%). Valley Park and Wye School (85%) were again the highest participating non-selective schools. Highest Ebacc Average Point score were: Tonbridge Grammar; Dartford Grammar; Tunbridge Wells Girls; and Dartford Girls.
Three schools had no takers including, surprisingly, Leigh UTC with its technology bias, offering no pupil the opportunity to follow the government’s preferred balanced curriculum.
Another measure for identifying the high performing schools, each recorded individually on my site here, although 2019 results are being posted at the time of writing, so feel free to contact me if you wish to have an entry updated. Again, 95% appears a convenient cut-off allowing ‘the usual suspects’: Tonbridge with 99% of the cohort; Judd and Dartford Girls (98%); Weald of Kent and Skinners (97%); Maidstone Girls, Dartford and Invicta (96%); Tunbridge Wells Girls, Highworth and Gravesend (95%). Lowest grammars were the two Sittingbourne schools: Borden (67%) and Highsted (73%).
Meopham (57%) just pipped Bennett Memorial (56%) to first place amongst the non selective schools. It is followed by Trinity (56%); Wye and Duke of York’s (50%). Lowest performer yet again is Hartsdown College (7%) – ‘We are delighted to have so many students gaining top grades’. Eighth lowest was Folkestone Academy with 13% who also led with a false boast, as they did in 2018, this time claiming that GCSE results were up by 8% more than the national average, whatever that means. They, however, had the sense after this appeared for a few days to try and influence potential families to remove it to avoid challenge.
Source: Kent Educational advice
Provisional Kent GCSE Outcomes 2019