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Telephone Consultation Service
For most families, choice of primary schools, and completion of the Common Application form is straightforward. If, however, your circumstances are such that this is a difficult issue feel free to use my Telephone Consultation Service for impartial, knowledgeable and frank advice.
The website has three main aims:
1) Firstly, to inform parents of my professional services. Currently I have supported over 600 successful secondary appeals in Kent and Medway and 30 successful primary appeals in the past eight years. I also run a popular telephone advisory service that provides informed advice on school admissions and a range of other concerns about schools. At this time of year it caters mainly for families relocating, expatriates, in Year admissions and primary admisisons and appeals. Secondary appeals are supported through my full client service and not through the telephone advisory service.
2) Secondly, to provide information and advice to Kent and Medway families about issues such as secondary school admissions and appeals, primary school admissions and appeals, grammar school admissions and appeals, and education ombudsman complaints in Kent and Medway. I also try and cover many other concerns relating to state schools and the education service, that affect children's progress through the complex educational system and structures that exist, especially in this part of the country.The aim is to enable parents to be as well informed as possible about the many decisions they are required to make which affect their children's future.
3) Finally, this is a rapidly changing area of life, especially with new Government initiatives. I try and offer news and comment about those changes of most direct relevance to families as I become aware of them, and you will find in these pages many statistics enabling parents to make more informed decisions about their children's education.
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Sevenoaks Grammar School Satellite: DfE correspondence suggests it IS illegal
Revised: 3 December. This article looks further at the implications of the letter from the Secretary of State for Education, Mr Gove, to Michael Fallon, MP for Sevenoaks, published below.
The letter makes clear there is a legal difficulty about the opening of the proposed new grammar school provision in Sevenoaks, depending on whether it is classified a new school or an expansion. I have now had a closer look at the issues and am becoming increasingly convinced the proposals on the table amount to a new school under the rules explained when discussions about the proposal began.
This would be a great setback to KCC’s plans to expand grammar school provision in the area to meet the forecast need. Even if Mr Gove upholds the proposal, there are likely to be legal challenges that could delay implementation for years. In a recent interview on Radio Kent, Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, said that if Michael Gove was minded to turn the proposal down on the advice he was given, he should instead be prepared to change the procedures to enable it to go forward. Certainly there would be considerable support from his own party, including such notables as: Michael Fallon, a Government Minister but more importantly MP for Sevenoaks and champion of the satellite; and Boris Johnson. Paul Carter may have reason to feel aggrieved if the proposal is in jeopardy, for not only has he allowed the Trinity Free School to go ahead on the site without dispute and encouraged the development of several other Free Schools (one of Mr Gove's key projects), but perhaps more importantly Kent Conservatives are under considerable threat from UKIP at the next general election. UKIP is committed to grammar school expansion and a defeat for the satellite would be a powerful fillip for them.....Read more...
OFSTED outcomes Since September: Medway remains grim, Kent slightly better
As I have been very busy since September, my website postings have been fewer than normal. This one is designed to catch up on OFSTED news in Kent and Medway since then, before the OFSTED Annual Report for 2012-13 is published, expected to contain bad news yet again for Kent and Medway primary schools. For 2011-12, both Local Authorities were in the bottom 10 in the country for percentage of Good and Outstanding OFSTEDs, but Medway has fallen further, against a national trend of improvement, and on these figures I anticipate it to be at or very close to the bottom this time round. You will find a previous article and links to others here. Although Kent's outcomes remain low, there was considerable improvement on individual outcomes.
Since September, the news from Medway remains dreadful but, even though it is just a small sample, it shows a continuation of last year's shocking statistics. Even more worrying is the continued poor performance of those schools inspected last June as part of a focused inspection in Medway which ought to have been targeted by Medway for improvement. Kent also continues to be well below national averages, but once again nearly twice as many schools improved their assessment as slipped back.KENT & MEDWAY PRIMARY SCHOOL OFSTEDINSPECTION OUTCOMES SINCE SEPTEMBER 2013TotalInspected
Outstanding GoodRequiresImprovement Inadequate Up Down Kent 29 0 55% 38% 7% 7 4 Medway 8 0 25% 63% 13% 1 2 Most recent national 18% 60% 19% 2%
Academies and Free School News November 2013, including proposed Special Free Schools
Swan Valley School finally became a sponsored academy called Ebbsfleet Academy on 1st November, after a very protracted conversion process; see latest article here. Needless to say, there is no mention of the November conversion, nor of the fact that the school is sponsored by Hayesbrook on the sparse school website, although a search does find a reference to the school being in partnership with Hayesbrook.
New converter academies are: Furley Park Primary School and Hamstreet Primary School (only out of Special Measures since May, when OFSTED graded it ‘Good’) both from Ashford. Wayfield Community Primary school and Nursery Unit in Medway has also become an academy.
There is a new application from Adisham Primary School, Canterbury (out of Special Measures since 2011, OFSTED ‘Good’ Oct 2013).
My apologies to both the proposed Aspire and Inspire Free Schools, as I have confused them.......Read more...
Full Kent Test results, plus Headteacher Assessment and Out of County results
I have prepared a variety of statistics relating to the Kent Test, published below along with my comments. I am awaiting some more data on individual scores and will publish another article when I receive these.
- 21% of children in the "selective areas" of Kent gained an automatic pass, the target figure. To achieve this the pass standard varied slightly from the two previous years, being fixed at a minimum aggregate score of 360 and at least 118 in each of the three papers. Another 5.8% of children in these areas of Kent secured grammar school assessments through Headteacher Assessment, target 5%.
- In spite of an increase of 183 in the number of out of county 11 plus passes, I estimate there will be no significant increase in last year's 335 ooc children taking up places in Kent grammar schools.
- Around 50% of Head Teacher Assessments were successful. As usual, the proportion of referrals and the percentage of passes is highest in the East and lowest in the West of Kent. Nearly 40% more girls than boys were found of grammar school ability by this route. This balances out the higher number of boys passing the test and gives very similar proportion of boys and girls passing overall.........
Grammar Schools: Sevenoaks Satellite & proposed expansion at Dartford Grammar School
Recent correspondence between Michael Fallon, MP for Sevenoaks and Michael Gove, Secretary of State, appears to suggest that any decision on the proposed satellite grammar school in Sevenoaks is far from clear cut.
Meanwhile, grammar school provision at Dartford Grammar looks set to increase, targeted at the ablest pupils from South East London.
Proposed Satellite Grammar School in Sevenoaks
The letter from Michael Fallon, dated 7th October, once more makes the case for the satellite, but finishes “I urge you to make a speedy decision”. Quite rightly, as time is passing, and the target date of opening in September 2015 relies on the building being mainly completed within the next 19 months. Planning permission may be working through, but not a brick can be laid until the decision is made, and any legal challenges resolved.
Mr Gove replied on 24th October: “Thank you for your letter of 7 October, about the provision of school places. I understand the difficulty pupils and families face in securing a suitable school place, and the distance many have to travel. Primary legislation prohibits the introduction of new selective schools and we must judge the proposals carefully to test whether they represent new schools or expansions.The Education Funding Agency (EFA) is assessing the proposals and will present its findings to ministers shortly. We will notify each school in writing as soon as a decision has been reached. In reaching our decision, we will consider all the evidence that has been presented through the process, and in correspondence with each academy trust. Thank you for writing to me on this important matter”.
Clearly, the central issue holding up proceedings is the one picked out by Mr Gove’s underlining: is the proposal for a new school or an expansion? ........Read more...
The Judd School acts to ease pressure on West Kent grammar schools
A statement from Judd issued 29th October.
Additional Form of Entry in September 2014
Kent County Council have repeated the request from last year for The Judd School to admit an additional form of entry to Year 7 (155 students, not 125) in September 2014, as it is anticipated that there will again be a shortfall of selective places for boys. The Governing Body has agreed to accommodate the class as it will hopefully enable more parental preferences to be met. At the same time, with government funding falling rapidly, the additional class will increase the revenue stream to the school.
This will come as a relief to many families in West Kent as it eases the pressure on boys’ grammar school places, with families looking to Tunbridge Wells Boys’ Grammar also benefiting. We don't yet know what Skinners is proposing, but I assume that Kent County Council has made the same request to them. I have been told the school has indicated to some parents that Skinners is planning to go down the same route but has not yet made a decision. This would reproduce the situation of last year, with all qualified local boys being offered a grammar school place (local means all boys in the TWGSB named parishes and three mile range), and a number from further away. I also anticipate that Tonbridge Grammar will follow the same route, providing as last year a small surplus of girls’ places.
The decision to offer the extra form now is important to families, as with closing date for secondary admission forms not until 5 November, those with marginal scores for Judd can make an application with more confidence. It would be good if Skinners were also able to publish their decision on the matter before that date......Read more...