IT WAS, as Miss Jean Brodie once said: “the creme de la creme” of Thurrock education, but over the past few years, Grays Convent has lost its place in the top tier of Thurrock education.
In 2008 and 2009, it had the highest percentage of students gaining a 5 A* to C (61%) but it dropped to third place in 2010 and 2011 and then slumped to 5th in 2012.
Its decline has sharply contrasted with the rise of schools such as the Harris Academy. In 2008, the College Avenue school was 2% higher than Harris. In 2011 they were 26% behind.
Whether that has been reflected in school rolls is questionable, however YT has been contacted by parents who claim they put down the Convent as fourth choice and have been allocated the school.
Supporters of the school say that it has been true to a traditional educational ethos and has not dumbed down or succumbed to what has been described as the “Glee” school of educational philosophy.
As one parent said, (who did not wish to be named). “The convent may be old fashioned but this is the school that will produce girls that go on to Oxford and Cambridge or go on to start businesses.”
In 2011, Ofsted graded the school as Outstanding but earlier this year, they returned, and although it is far from disastrous, some education experts believe it shines a light on some of the cracks that may have appeared in the school.
Ofsted points out the following positive aspects about the school
1.GCSEs at grades A* to C including English and mathematics is above the national average.
2.Teaching is good. The large majority of lessons provide engaging and interesting activities that help the pupils to make good progress.
3. Pupils who need extra help to catch up are well supported. As a result, the gaps in attainment between different groups are closing.
4.The development of pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills is good. Most pupils make at least good progress in these areas.
However, it also makes the following criticisms.
1.Not enough teaching is outstanding and some requires improvement.
2.Teachers do not always set tasks that are well matched to individual needs and this slows down progress for some pupils keen to learn.
3.When marking work, teachers do not always give pupils enough guidance on how to improve or expect them to respond to their advice.
4.In less successful lessons, teachers sometimes limit what the pupils are able to achieve by keeping very tight control over every aspect of the lesson.
The headteacher, Miss Brister, is unavailable for comment.
YT hopes to interview the portfolio holder, cllr John Kent on a number of issues next week.