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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.

  • 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 1255 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 773 times
  • Government U-Turn on Compulsory Academisation: Kent's view
    Following the government’s U-Turn on compulsory academisation, Paul Carter, Chairman of the County Councils Network and leader of Kent County Council, has written a politically astute article in the Daily Telegraph supporting the Secretary of State’s decision but expressing concerns about the increasing influence of non-elected Regional Commissioners with little or no local knowledge. However, he still sees a role for successful Local Authorities: “It was therefore encouraging to hear last week Nicky Morgan stating that government is in listening mode and wanting to work closely with local authorities. Alongside a suggestion that schools not currently academies could potentially become a new category of ‘local authority academy trusts’. This is worthy of serious consideration”.
    Paul Carter 
    Because of his roles as Leader of the country’s largest Local Authority (Conservative controlled) and the County Councils Network, together with membership of other national and regional organisations, Mr Carter is an influential figure nationally and will have had played his part in the government decision to abandon its daft policy of compulsory academisation. The article also considers that “High-performing county councils are the friends, not enemies, of Government in achieving their aims of better education for all”, building bridges after recent tensions. Current evidence is that Kent is one of these high performing councils, but one wonders where this all leaves Medway, the worst performing Authority in the country, by number of measures reported on elsewhere on this website.....
    Written on Saturday, 07 May 2016 22:06 Be the first to comment! Read 240 times
  • Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School:Controversy over Academisation
    Updated 14th May
    The story below is growing and growing. You may wish to consult the Facebook Forum  to see developing views, or an article in Kent on Sunday which attempts an analyis of the key issues, although these are now so tangled, it is difficult to keep up.   
    There is growing controversy over what appears to be a rushed decision by Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School in Canterbury to apply for academy status. The school Governing Body Minutes of November 2015 state that the reason for proceeding with haste was because of the connection, described in the most recent OFSTED Report as an “informal relationship”, with Spires Academy where the headteacher of SLGGS is also Executive Headteacher, and there are close personal links between the two institutions.
    Simon Langton girls
    The fear driving the application was that: “if the decision be held over for a few more months the option of Spires would no longer be available to the school and the decision had to be made by the end of the year as other schools were interested in taking on Spires as part of a MAT (Multi-Academy Trust); and that this could result in being allocated another school (not necessarily a local school)”, which was being discussed by the Academy (see below). Of course, nowhere does this imply that another school taking over Spires is a bad thing for the students of the school, and data presented below suggests it may be even be beneficial for the academy, especially as the Academy was served with a Pre-Warning Notice by the Department for Education because of its low standards. It may well be that the proposed academisation of SLGGS could be seen as a preemptive action to stave off such a take-over. I cannot believe there is another case where the main reason put forward for academisation of a school is to block the future prospects of another school with whom it has no formal relationship. It was reported that a further obstacle to academisation has now been removed in that partially thanks to the good offices of KCC, SLGGS had secured funds to provide new buildings. The headteacher agreed with governors at the November meeting that she would inform staff, parents and students next day of the Governors decision to apply to become a Multi Academy Trust.

    It was only when I alerted parents on this website in January that the school had applied for academy status that many people learned what was going on and I was contacted by concerned staff to ask if it were true......

    Written on Friday, 06 May 2016 22:50 3 comments Read 1917 times
  • Kent and Medway Primary Allocations 2016

    Kent County Council will rightly celebrate the primary school allocation figures below, sent out today. For even with an additional 591 Kent children in the system above 2015’s figure, the number of children being offered their first choice school has leapt up by 762 to 87.2% of the total number of applications , a record over at least the past six years. In addition, whilst the number of children offered no school of their choice fell to 606, down by 118, also down for the second consecutive year, to 3.4%, again the lowest figure for at least six years.

    Medway Council (Serving You) as usual has sent out an opaque press release on allocation and I have had to best guess the figures in the table below. Although the number of Medway resident applications has increased by just 10 children to 3533, the percentage being offered one of their choices has fallen from 96.4% to less than 96% (historically this suggests 95.75% or lower), whilst the percentage of first choices has remained around the same at around 87.1%, with a slight increase in numbers also around 10 children. However, approximately 150 children with none of their six choices looks to be the highest for many years.

    I will publish further details on oversubscription and vacancies at Reception Level and at Junior schools when I receive them in the next few weeks, but you can see a flavour of the situation from my 2015 article on Kent oversubscription and vacancies here, and for Medway here.

    The continuation below begins with some advice on next steps if you have not received the school of your choice....

    Written on Sunday, 17 April 2016 17:42 Be the first to comment! Read 799 times
  • Academy & Free School News, April 2016

    Seven new primary school academy proposals; compulsory academisation; two new secondary Free Schools announced on site of Chaucer Technology College and in Thanet; academy takeovers of Community College Whitstable and the Charles Dickens School, Broadstairs; plans unveiled for mixed Sixth Form at Sevenoaks Annex; Hoo Peninsula to become first local area to become academies only, creating a squeeze on secondary school options; failure of Medway’s first Free School - Inspire Special Free School, and other sponsors; proposed new primary academy or free school in Paddock Wood; update on Whitehill Primary School – it has been a busy period…..

    Written on Saturday, 09 April 2016 07:47 4 comments Read 1217 times