Hartsdown Academy ‘most improved secondary school in Kent’ for Progress 8 measures

Hartsdown headteacher Matt Tate

Hartsdown Academy headteacher Matthew Tate says the latest release of secondary school progress measures are cause for celebration – with the school in Margate confirmed as the most improved secondary school in Kent and the 11th most improved secondary school in the country for Progress 8 measures.

The data, released last week, shows measures including Progress 8. This shows how much progress pupils make from the end of primary school to the end of year 11 based on results in up to 8 qualifications, which include English and maths.

A score above zero means pupils made more progress, on average, than pupils across England who got similar results at the end of key stage 2.

A score below zero means pupils made less progress, on average, than pupils across England who got similar results at the end of key stage 2.

For Hartsdown Academy the average progress 8 score in 2021/22 was  -1.34 but results for the 2022/23 academic year show a significant improvement at -0.4.

Hartsdown head teacher Matthew Tate

Mr Tate said: “The improvement in results has been an overnight change seven years in the making and reflects my key challenge which is the question “is this good enough for my child?”. “This challenge has allowed Hartsdown to sustain improvement through an inclusive curriculum that meets the needs of all our children.

“ I know that children at Hartsdown get a great education and am happy that I was able to secure a place for my own son who had previously attended a grammar school. Education is obviously much more than GCSEs and at Hartsdown we offer a rich, inclusive curriculum that seeks to develop the whole child, however we understand that results matter and we are delighted with the achievements of our students.

“The improvement in school outcomes is an outstanding achievement and both staff and students should be delighted to have been a part of this success.  However, this comes as no shock as I have had the privilege of seeing the incredible work that happens every day in the classroom and the energy and dynamism at additional sessions including Saturday mornings. We are rightly very proud but also mindful that this is not the end of our journey and we are fully focused on making further improvements next year.”

Mr Tate became headmaster at Hartsdown in 2016 and says that since that time the school has seen a major transformation with the introduction of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) for Key Stage 3 and its post-16 counterpart the IB Careers-Related Programme. The year 11 students who received the latest results were the first cohort to have the MYP programme in the curriculum.

Hartsdown ‘new’ block Photo John Horton

In 2020, a new purpose-built block  was opened at the school and progress was recognised by OFSTED during an inspection in 2021 where it received a Good rating.

Thanet data

Dane Court: Progress 8 0.68 (last year 0.27) Grade 5 and above in Maths and English GCSE  94%

Chatham & Clarendon: Progress 8 0.12 (last year 0.55) Grade and above in Maths and English GCSE    81%

Charles Dickens School Progress 8 0.07 (last year -0.13) Grade 5 and above in Maths and English GCSE   30%

King Ethelbert Progress 8 -0.16 (last year -0.42) Grade 5 and above in Maths and English GCSE   29%

St Georges Progress 8 -0.35 (last year -0.73) Grade 5 and above in Maths and English GCSE   20%

Hartsdown Progress 8 -0.4 (last year -1.34) Grade 5 and above in Maths and English GCSE   24%

Ursuline College Progress 8 -0.53 (last year -0.31) Grade 5 and above in Maths and English GCSE   18%

Sandwich Tech Progress 8 -0.7 (last year 0.89) Grade 5 and above in Maths and English GCSE   25%

Royal Harbour Academy Progress 8 -0.78 (last year -1.05) Grade 5 and above in Maths and English GCSE    16%

The 11 most improved schools ( does not include special schools)

School NameP8Last year P8Difference
Mercia School2.2202.22
Eden Boys’ School, Birmingham1.820.371.45
Ada Lovelace Church of England High School1.3301.33
Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy , Manchester1.360.221.14
Harris Academy Sutton1.101.1
The Halifax Academy0.3-0.791.09
Ernesford Grange Community Academy-0.37-1.441.07
Burnt Mill Academy-0.19-1.241.05
The Gateway Academy0.22-0.760.98
Wyvern St Edmund’s-0.17-1.130.96
Hartsdown Academy-0.4-1.340.94



  1. St George’s school – only 20% of children pass English and Maths at Grade 5+.

    Why on earth are so many parents desperate to send their kids there ?

  2. I’m an ex-teacher and have long thought I’d love to teach at Hartsdown Academy if I were still working. The transformation there has been pretty amazing. My impression is that the staff really do care about kids – I’ve worked in so many schools where that has just been PR when in fact Senior Management tell teachers things like ‘ignore the rubbish’, i.e. academically weaker students, in the run-up to GCSEs etc.

  3. Education is now all about league tables, league tables that are fixed to help the top schools.

    Kids in top school come in the first year expecting to get 7 top results and do. Is the teaching any good ? Yes. Have the kids improved? No

    Kids coming into poorer schools expecting to get no qualifications leave with a few, is the teaching any good ? Yes . Have the kids improved ? Yes

    • Agreed.
      There’s no point in (for example) trumpeting KS2 SATs results without comparing them with comparing them with the KS1 results. It’s the “added value” that matters.

      • Andrew, KS2 SATs are final year primary school tests and Progress 8 is about how far they’ve come by the end of year 11. So yes, they are all about how much ‘value’ secondary school has added. However like a lot of teachers I used to treat KS2 results with a degree of suspicion and sometimes incredulity. With so much pressure on all schools to produce good results there’s always the temptation to spend more time on preparing kids for such tests than is good for their overall education.

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