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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 on school matters that affect families in Kent and Medway, 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  telephone 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.

  • Kent 2016 Final GCSE Tables

    This article updates and replaces an earlier one covering provisional results published in October

    This year the long established 5 A*-C GCSE league table including English and maths has been scrapped, being replaced by two new assessments, Progress 8 and Attainment 8. Both these are measured by an arcane formula combining results in eight curriculum subjects to produce numbers whose meaning and spread is very difficult to comprehend, but enable schools to be placed in an order. The key measure is Progress 8 (full table here) which looks at progress from the end of primary school to the end of Year 11, comparing pupils to others nationally, who begin from the same starting point, with Kent slightly below average at -0.04, in 80th place out of 152 Local Authorities, against a National average of -0.03.

    Meopham 2

    Attainment 8 (full table here) simply measures what it says, with Kent doing better than average with 50.4, against a National score of 49.9, ranked 60th out of all Local Authorities, although there is a variety of other statistics to choose from to suit your case.

    NTC5   Copy

    Headlines: Grammar School progress dominated by West Kent and super-selectives; Oakwood comes below the national average. Top non-selective school is St Simon Stock, but remarkable performance by Meopham, Orchards Academy and Northfleet Technology College. Half the lowest performers are in the Maidstone area. Seven schools failed the government floor level requirement and will face government intervention. Top Grammar School attainment similar pattern to Progress, all five lowest performers are boys' schools, worst performance again Oakwood Park. Non-selective tale is led by three church schools and Duke of York's Boarding Academy, Bennett Memorial leading the way. Five non-selective schools are at the foot of both Progress and Attainment Tables: Hartsdown; Royal Harbour; Oasis Sheppey; Swadelands; and New Line Learning. 

    Orchards 1

     

    Further information below. including the performance of individual schools......

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    Written on Friday, 20 January 2017 11:53 Be the first to comment! Read 163 times
  • Maidstone Girls and Invicta Grammar Schools: Sixth Form Admissions
    You will find a feature length article in Kent on Sunday here, widening the debate. It includes a quotation by Julie Derrick, headteacher of Invicta Grammar School: "This is an 'interpretation' by a couple of students- it is not accurate". The host of testimonies at the foot of this table, and in the media, suggests she is out of touch with reality. 

    Please visit comments at the foot of this page, from twenty young people or their parents, who come across as thoughtful, full of commonsense, concerned for other victims, and well educated by their school. All support the facts denied by Invicta Grammar. Please note that whilst some have chosen to write under a nom de plume, nearly all have identified themselves to me and appear to be genuine. This webpage has been unprecedented in its popularity with 9239 visitors on its first day of publication, indicating the importance of the issues raised,  having subsequently soared to a total of 18676 at the time of the latest update (Saturday). 

    The pressure to achieve results has resulted in the two girls’ grammar schools in Maidstone both adopting apparently unlawful tactics to secure top A Level grade performance, at the expense of the future of some students. OFSTED considers both high performing schools are Outstanding, so there is no doubt about the excellent quality of education offered for those young people who stay the course.  

    However, at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, the school suddenly introduced a new and unlawful provision for selecting external students for admission to the Sixth Form in September 2016, illegally picking those predicted to achieve highest GCSE Grades by a process not in the school’s admission rules.

    At Invicta Grammar School, 22 students ‘voluntarily’ left the school half way through their A Level course, refused permission to carry on into Year 13, a total of 26 through the year, the highest number and the second highest proportion of any Kent grammar school. This was because their grades at AS level were insufficient to be confident of the high A Level performance of which the school is so proud, Given no alternative to stay on, this amounts to expulsion although there is no lawful provision for students to be removed mid-course by schools in this way.

    Further details on the situation at both schools below, along with other grammar schools which have a high departure rate. There appears a particular problem in Medway, where four of the six grammar schools saw a loss of more than 10% of their cohort between Years 12 and 13 this year. 

    Each year, I am contacted by a number of young people, mainly but not exclusively in grammar schools, who are not admitted to Sixth Forms although fully qualified according to the school admission criteria, or who are forced out at the end of Year 12 because the school only wants the highest performing students for the sake of their league table position.  However, these two cases are the most extreme I have come across.

    Too many students, capable of fulfilling their potential by achieving A Level success, albeit sometimes at a lower level than schools wish to see, therefore see their career chances thwarted...

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    Written on Sunday, 08 January 2017 19:07 28 comments Read 18975 times
  • Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust: The end to a profitable enterprise

    The nine Lilac Sky Academies in Kent and East Sussex have just two more days before the unlamented Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust (LSSAT) closes down by Government Instruction and the schools are handed over to other Academy Trusts. The Trust Website still records the Board of Directors as those who saw the Trust to its financial ruin and were then removed, being replaced by Regional Schools Commissioners appointees six months ago.

     LSSAT Logo

    Puffed up to the end, until just before the end of term, individual Trust Websites were self-congratulatory about their schools’ achievements with not a word about the change of Management apart from a brief notice buried away last July which reads– “Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust has decided that in order to serve the needs of our children we should seek an alternative Trust to take over the running of some of our schools” – perhaps an odd way to describe events.

    The Trust carried a two million pound deficit at the end of 2014/15 (this year’s account still to come), which was originally reported as debts to be passed on to the successor Trusts, but I am now told the final sum will be absorbed by government; if so there will have been no incentive to save in the final year.  

    LSSAT probably reached its acme in November 2015, when it boasted on its website that it had won a Department for Education contract to support Regional Schools Commissioners in eight RSC Regions, including  the South East, which would probably have come in very handy as the latter included all nine LSSAT Academies except that Government never activated it (see below). 

    The Contract Brief
     - advise open academies on effective improvement strategies;
     - assess and advise on Free School/UTC/Studio School applications;
    - assist the RSC’s in securing suitable sponsorship solutions for relevant maintained schools.

    This would have been invaluable as it was surely a major conflict of interest. In the event, it appears that government belatedly realised there was an issue and no services were requested, the Contract being terminated in November 2016 (response to FOI Request). The FOI request also reveals thatthe EFA is reviewing financial management and governance at the trust. This work is currently ongoing and we have no further comments to make at this stage’......

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    Written on Friday, 16 December 2016 10:47 5 comments Read 727 times
  • Holcombe Grammar School: the Second Co-education Consultation

    UPDATED: 22nd December

    Since I wrote a month ago about the second Consultation launched within a year by the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT) to turn the boys’ Holcombe Grammar School (HGS) into a co-educational school from September 2018, the school has published further documentation which only serves to underline four key propositions.

    Firstly, in a crowded field, I believe this may be the most disgraceful proposal for a change of school status I have come across.

    Secondly, The Letter to Parents, Consultation Document,  and Notes of Meetings on 10th November  and 1st December contain many errors of fact, misleading statements, innuendo and untruths most of which appear to be deliberately inserted to strengthen a very weak case. 

    Thirdly,  the content of these documents point to a key purpose being behind its publication. This is the undermining of another grammar school, Chatham Grammar School for Girls (CGSG).

    Fourthly, the proposal is put forward purely for self-interest with no thought for the local community, its schools or the reduction in pupil choice.

    Chatham Boys 3

     

    The Consultation follows hot on the heels of Government turning down a previous identical proposal just four months ago, in August and ends on 2nd January, so it is  important that views are expressed by then, using the form provided. The school claims it can apply again as it is demonstrating a solution to the previous reasons for rejection.  My previous article demonstrates that all five of the new reasons put forward for the new proposal in a letter to parents are either false or invalid.

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    Written on Friday, 16 December 2016 10:47 1 comment Read 305 times
  • Kent & Medway Primary School Performance: 2016 Key Stage 2 Results

    Update and Correction Saturday 17th December

    There is a sea change in measuring performance in primary schools this year with parents facing a barrage of statistics to assist in school choice and the factors outlined in a BBC article  leading with “Parents are being urged to ignore the latest school league tables, after "chaotic" changes to tests in England.”

    Nevertheless, there is important information amongst the mass of data which will enable a high proportion of schools to claim they are performing well by one measure or another and I attempt to point up some of this below, with a strong warning about reliability.

    Government has now developed two key measures, firstly about the progress achieved between the age of 7 (Key Stage 1) and 11 (Key Stage 2), measured around a National Average of 0 (zero). Secondly achievement measured by the percentage of pupils in the school reaching a standardised score of 100 in mathematics, English reading, and spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG).

    The good news in the Kent table is that overall pupils achieved above average progress in each of the three elements, and that 59% of children reached the standardised score across the board, against a National Average of 53%. This is way up on 2015's statistically absolutely average performance

    For Medway, the table shows that pupils achieved below national average progress in reading and maths, and average progress in SPAG, leading to a below National Average attainment score of 49% in attainment. It is unclear at this stage whether this is an improvement on last year's bottom place in the country. 

    Further details of the county figures below, with some interpretation, together with a look at some individual schools. I conclude with attempting some advice for parents looking for a primary school for their child in September 2017 based on this data.

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    Written on Friday, 16 December 2016 00:08 Be the first to comment! Read 474 times
  • Further analysis of Kent test results for Admission September 2017
    I have now had further opportunity to look at data relating to the recent Kent Test outcomes for Admission in September 2017, with a summary of the statistics below.  This article expands my initial lookat the 2016 Kent Test results, written in October, which should be read in conjunction with the article. The figures do not match exactly, as adjustments and late tests have produced changes.
    Headlines are:
    • A fall in the proportion of Kent children taking the Kent Test from 64% to 60%, and a 9% fall in the number of children put forward for Headteacher Assessments (HTA).
    • Girls are still ahead on both automatic test passes since the Test was changed in 2014, and also in HTAs, but the gaps have narrowed.
    • As in previous years, the highest proportion of HTA success is in East Kent, the lowest in West Kent.
    • The fall in HTA successes has resulted in an overall fall in success from 26.1% to 25.7%, nearer the target of 25%.
    • There is an increase in the proportion of children on Pupil Premium found selective to 9.1% of the Kent state school total passes,brought about through headteachers recognising ability in the HTA, where coaching is irrelevant.

    amherst       Ethelbert Road

    • Schools with the highest proportion of Kent successes are split between East and West: Amherst Junior (Sevenoaks); Ethelbert Road (Faversham); Ramsgate Holy Trinity CofE; and Claremont (Tunbridge Wells). 
    • Another leap in Out of County Passes, around 80% of whom will not take up places.  

    For more details see below:

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    Written on Tuesday, 15 November 2016 07:14 3 comments Read 921 times