Last month it was reported that Medway’s primary schools were the lowest rated in the country on one measure. Tracey Crouch MP and I demanded an urgent meeting with Medway’s new head of education, Barbara Peacock, and Juliet Sevior, her deputy for primary education, who has been working to turn round performance. This took place on Friday and was extremely constructive.
The proportion of children gaining the expected level 4 or better at both English and Maths was a little better across the Rochester and Strood constituency, at 74%, but still not good overall. I have analysed those Key Stage 2 results for all primary schools in the constituency over the past five years, as well as the proportion of children both taking and passing the test to go to grammar school. The results make interesting reading for parents.
What is striking is the sheer range of results. Cliffe Woods, whose conversion I welcomed as our first primary academy in Medway, has had at least 90% of children meet the standard each and every year from 2008 to 2012. At the bottom in 2012 and below 60% were All Faiths in Strood, although this was a slip after two better years, and Cuxton Junior School, which worryingly has fallen from 80% to 56% attainment in just five years.
In our school by school discussion I was impressed by the extent to which our new council officers recognised and really understood the range of issues affecting different schools. However, the one which stands out again and again is the ability, drive and leadership shown (or in a few cases not shown) by the school head.
There are a number of schools in which I believe that the council is intervening appropriately. In others I am pleased by the positive approach which Medway is taking to promote primary academies which are more free of council control. As well as the excellent Cliffe Woods, I recently opened the Elaine academy in Strood as part of the fantastic Williamson Trust based on the Rochester Maths School, and on Thursday I will be joining the Bishop of Rochester to open a primary academy at St James, Grain.
I wish all our schools, their heads, teachers and pupils the very best. I will be keeping a very close eye on how attainment and results progress.