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........... to the Home Page of Kentadvice.co.uk, 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

If you need more general information please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For specific advice issues please go to the Contact page.    

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  

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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: peter@kentadvice.co.uk. \nNews items appear as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.

  • Lilac Sky Academy Trust: The end of the Road
     Update: Several updates below. 25 July.
    One of the very worst academy chains operating in Kent in my view, as illustrated many times elsewhere on this website is Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust (LSSAT), founded by Trevor Averre-Beeson, a champion of for-profit academies, in 2009. It therefore comes as no surprise to learn that the Academies operation of Lilac Sky is to be closed down by the Regional Schools Commissioner, all the schools to be passed over to other chains, with parents being quietly informed on academy websites. The Chair of the Academy Trust has already gone, to be replaced by a new Interim Chair. 
     
    LSSAT Logo
     
    At present, I have only come across two other academy chains in the country that have had all their academies removed:  Prospects Academy Trust in 2014, in that case for poor performance; and Perry Beeches Trust earlier this year, for 'financial shortcomings'.
     
     
    It is not yet clear what has encouraged the RSC to make the decision for Lilac Sky, but it could always have been the track record of some of the Trust's Leaders including those described below. Probably the worst examples of the Trust's operation in Kent were: at the now closed Furness Special School in Hextable, where the Trust was allowed to run up a £1.63 million deficit in the school accounts which was then paid for out of the budget for the remaining Kent schools, when Furness was closed, the school being replaced by Broomhill Bank North; and at Castle Hill Community College in Deal where under Lilac Sky tutelage, the school plunged from OFSTED Outstanding to Special Measures in less than three years....
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    Written on Monday, 18 July 2016 00:10 6 comments Read 3821 times
  • Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School

    Events at Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School continue apace since my previous article at the beginning of last month. See also article on resignation of Chief Executive of Thinking Schools Academy Trust.

    Simon Langton Girls

    Main details are that the school has now withdrawn its application to become an Academy, a number of governors and the clerk to governors resigned, and the Chairman of Governors has resigned.

    Now KCC has appointed five new governors to the GB and a new Chairman has been elected, “bringing with them considerable educational and leadership experience and nationally recognised expertise in school governance”. The new Chairman is Dr Christine Carpenter, who a few years ago was Headteacher of the Sacred Heart High School, a girls’ Catholic School in Hammersmith. Most of the other new governors are recognisable as also being involved with education in Kent. However, there are still massive and ongoing troubles which affect the school.

    A letter to parents, “Sent on behalf of Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School Governing Body and Kent County Council”, so unclear whether the existing Governing Body has actually produced or approved it, sets out the main changes and pledges that “Moving forward the school governors and Kent County Council are determined to ensure that relationships can be restored under a new climate of openness and transparency”.

    You will find a superb commentary on the debacle by the local Newspaper, here

    However, matters to be resolved include ....

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    Written on Monday, 11 July 2016 14:22 3 comments Read 665 times
  • Wayfield Primary School: Surely the worst ever performer in a crowded field in Medway

    Several times on the pages of this website, I have written about “the worst ever” OFSTED Report I had read at the time with regard to Kent or Medway schools or academies failing because of incompetent management and leadership. However, the recent Report placing Wayfield Primary School in Chatham in Special Measures leaves the competition standing. In 2013, just before the school was taken over by Griffin, OFSTED had found it a GOOD school.

    Wayfield                         Griffin

    Whilst the school may indeed have been "Proud to Achieve" in 2013 some excerpts from the current Report describe the shocking fall from grace brought about by the Griffin Trust :

    Pupils’ safety and well-being are at risk; Staff manage pupils’ behaviour poorly; Normal discipline has broken down; On occasion, staff lose control of pupils, who are then at risk of being harmed; Too often, pupils become distracted, fool about or are noisy in lessons; Over the past two years, the school’s provision has notably worsened; Pupils’ attainment and progress have fallen catastrophically; Pupils underachieve in all key stages; Pupils are inadequately taught; The leadership and management of the school are weak at all levels; The headteacher is the only senior leader; The Griffin Schools Trust oversees the school unsuccessfully; The governance arrangements, organised by the academy trust, are ineffective”.

    Media commentary by Radio Kent and the Medway Messenger on this appalling betrayal of children’s life chances missed my previous story, first reported in the Guardian, that: “in just two years the Trust paid over £700,000 to a company jointly owned by its two chief executives.Three other companies in which trustees of the charity have majority interests received smaller payments that amounted to around £100,000 for “educational consultancy services’”, the trust’s accounts show”. This is a common device by some academy chains to ensure an adequate financial reward for their leaders’ noble endeavours.....

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    Written on Monday, 04 July 2016 20:32 Be the first to comment! Read 599 times
  • 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…….

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    Written on Tuesday, 14 June 2016 11:23 Be the first to comment! Read 405 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:……

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    Written on Tuesday, 07 June 2016 12:32 Be the first to comment! Read 455 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. …..

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    Written on Saturday, 04 June 2016 12:28 5 comments Read 1221 times