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........... to the Home Page of, where you will find the latest news and comment directly below this introduction. The website contains over 600 pages of information, advice, news and comment which you can access through the index on the right of this page, or the search engine above. You can receive regular news and blog items as they are published via the email notification, also on the RHS of the page, or by RSS. To find a list of all news items, go to "MORE NEWS", at the very bottom of the page, where you will also find a list of archived items and articles by me published in the media.  

The website will also introduce you to my professional services, providing support and advice on matters covered in the website, especially related to school admissions and appeals, as described here

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For the year 2015, this website had 186,209 certified visits, from 114,122 different users, who carried out 402,521 page views.
This was in addition to the thousand plus subscribers, including parents, schools, education officers, politicians and the media who each received the 87 News and Comment articles published during the year. 
Most Popular Page: Kent Grammar School Applications - total views since publication 198,651  


Latest News & Comments

Just click on a news item below to read it in full. Feel free to subscribe to the news via the email link to the right or the RSS Feed at the bottom of the page. Please note that the 800 or so regular subscribers who receive each news item directly are not included in the number of readers recorded below the item. If you have a view on any item posted, please leave a comment. Also feel free to suggest items of news, or areas where comment is needed to: \nNews items appear as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.

  • Medway Primary Schools: Oversubscription and vacancies for 2016.

    I now have detailed figures for Medway’s Primary Reception and Junior School allocations for September 2016, and they confirm the data quoted in my initial article on primary school allocations, published in April.

    The overall outcome in terms of preferences and vacancies is similar to 2015, although another 60 late places were put into two Gillingham schools, St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic and Woodlands Academy to head off problems. 40 extra unplanned places were put into Elaine Primary Academy, but in the end, these were not used.

    St Margarets Infant            Brompton Westbrook 

    Rainham is the most pressured area again, with not a single Reception place left unfilled. Most popular school is St Margaret’s Infants’ also in Rainham, turning away 39 first choices, soaring from nine last year. This is followed by: Brompton-Westbrook (Academy), (31), third most popular in 2015; Swingate 27, another school that has increased sharply in popularity; Pilgrim and Bligh Infants (Academy applications in progress), (25); and All Faiths Children’s Academy and Cliffe Woods Primary Academy (23).

    Five primary schools have over a third of their places empty, headed by All Hallows Primary Academy on the Hoo Peninsula with a 60% vacancy rate for its 30 places, although Twydall has the largest number, with 34 of its 75 places going empty.

    I look more closely at each Medway area below, together with the situation for Junior Schools…….

    Written on Tuesday, 14 June 2016 11:23 Be the first to comment! Read 259 times
  • Grammar Schools and Social Mobility: Part 2

    A BBC news item last evening (Monday), reporting on the recommendations of the Grammar Schools and Social Mobility Committee of KCC (see previous article), contained the startling opinion that, in order to meet the objectives of the Committee, another 700 grammar school places would need to be created.

    Although not mentioned, this would be spread across the five years of compulsory secondary education and so, capping the secondary transfer rate at the current 29%, including all three routes to selection, the Committee is looking at just 120 more places for high performing children on Free School Meals in Kent’s 32 grammar schools each year, fewer than 4 children per average grammar school with an intake of 150 students  

    In fact, there is no suggestion or intimation whatever in the Committee’s recommendations that a single new place should be created, which would of course increase the current 29% of the school population attending grammar school, an idea for which there appears no political will.

    The Committee main thrusts are as follows:……

    Written on Tuesday, 07 June 2016 12:32 Be the first to comment! Read 321 times
  • Phoenix Rising from the Ashes: King's Farm Primary School, Gravesend

    King’s Farm Primary School in Gravesend has been removed from Special Measures early, the Report of OFSTED Inspectors recording three ‘Good’ assessments in: The Effectiveness of Leadership and Management; Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare; together with Early Years Provision. However it is still classified as ‘Requires Improvement’ because of the vagaries of the ‘Quality Assurance’ process.

    Kings Farm 2 

    The school had been placed in Special Measures in October 2014 by OFSTED as explained here. That Inspection team, although faced with the wreckage left from a train crash brought about by the appalling management of a local Multi Academy Trust brought in by Kent County Council to improve standards, acknowledged early signs of improvement in their Report after the school had been handed over to the leadership of neighbouring Ifield School. 

    The following paragraph is based on quotes from the most recent Report, as is much of the commentary that follows.  

    As a Governor, I am delighted that Governance is described as excellent, the Consultant Headteacher responding to the previous Inspection with determination and a clear and uncompromising vision shared by staff that promotes the achievement of every child within a caring community. Since the last Inspection, leaders have relentlessly driven improvement, their accurate knowledge of the school, and the highly positive ethos they have created helping to promote further improvement. Overall, the school has been transformed. This rapid improvement was enabled by the partnership with Ifield school (an OFSTED Outstanding Special School) in a Federation from September 2015 which brought in the visionary oversight of the executive headteacher. …..

    Written on Saturday, 04 June 2016 12:28 5 comments Read 1073 times
  • Grammar School Leaders in Trouble, Part 2: Still The Rochester Grammar School & Simon Langton Girls' Grammar

    I make no apology to returning to this subject but events are unfolding so fast it is difficult to keep up.

    My previous article written just on Saturday, described events at the two grammar schools, with the CEO of Thinking Schools Academy Trust, flagship school The Rochester Grammar School, being suspended The Times alleging amongst other claims that she snooped on staff email accounts and doctored parts of an external Inspection Report. Although the suspension took place back in April, it wasn’t until The Times went to press that it became public, and today the Trust has issued a statement as a result.

    Rochester Grammar

    By contrast the Headteacher and Governors at Simon Langton Girls Grammar School in Canterbury, appear to be getting into deeper water daily, with a letter sent out yesterday from Patrick Leeson, Head of KCC’s Education and Young People’s Services Department, requiring a re-run of the Governing Body decision to apply for Academy status last November, on grounds of maladministration. Surely more importantly, the GB should have been focusing with concern  the strong evidence of the school’s sharp fall in popularity as explained below, an issue that has been raised by several commentators concerned for the future of the school.

    Simon Langton girls

    Written on Wednesday, 01 June 2016 23:54 2 comments Read 1329 times
  • Kent Reception and Junior School Allocations 2016: Oversubscription and Vacancies

    I have now received a school by school breakdown of Reception and Junior school allocations for Kent for September 2016. As last year, these show a sharp contrast between pressure on spaces in urban districts and those in more rural areas. The multitude of local pressures focused on the towns see the biggest problems this year coming in Sevenoaks, no empty spaces, Maidstone, one space, Gravesham, three, and Tunbridge Wells seven, each in just one school.  Then come Ashford, Faversham and Tonbridge, each with two per cent of their places empty. Contrast this with Ashford’s rural areas, with 16% of empty spaces, and Shepway with 15%.

    The most popular schools vary considerably year on year, 2016 being no exception, the top ten being: Fleetdown Primary, Dartford, and Loose Primary, Maidstone both turning away 53 first choices; Great Chart, Ashford, 41; Holy Trinity and St John’s CofE, Margate, 38; St Joseph’s RC in Northfleet, Sandgate in Folkestone (last year’s most oversubscribed school) and  Claremont in Tunbridge Wells all on 37; St Michael’s CofE Infant in Maidstone, 35, St Crispin’s Infant on 34; and Herne Infant on 33. Just five of these schools were in the top ten last year, with Loose more than doubling the number of disappointed families as it recovers from several difficult years.

    You will find more information and a fuller District breakdown below, along with a section on Junior Schools at the foot of the article. I will as usual publish a similar article on Medway Primary schools as soon as possible but am still waiting for some data.....

    Written on Wednesday, 11 May 2016 20:40 2 comments Read 2835 times
  • Whitehill Primary, Astor College, Spires Academy, Cornwallis Academy, New Line Learning Academy - All issued with warning notices by Government over unacceptable standards

    Six Kent and Medway schools have now been issued with Notices about standards in the year to 25th March 2016, a disturbing proportion of the 48 Notices issued nationally in that year – hardly an indication of rising standards in Academies. The total number of academies currently stands at 5272. Since my last article in July, which looked at a similarly alarming number of Notices for Kent and Medway schools, four new Notices have been issued. The Gravesend Grammar Schools Academy Trust was issued with a pre-termination notice in November by the Regional Schools Commissioner, in relation to Whitehill Primary School in Gravesham, the second school in the Trust. If it fails to improve or respond appropriately to some tough demands, as set out below, the school will be issued with a Termination Notice, which could lead to the closure of the school. Astor College, Dover, was issued with a Full Warning in December 2015, following its failure to respond properly to a pre-warning the previous year and again has had to answer some tough questioning. Spires Academy in Canterbury was issued with a Pre-Warning Notice in September, especially significant in connection with its relationship with Simon Langton Grammar School. The Future Schools Trust was issued with a pre-warning Notice relating to Cornwallis Academy and New Line Learning Academy, in Maidstone, in November....

    Written on Monday, 09 May 2016 23:32 Be the first to comment! Read 1217 times