........... 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.
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Most Popular Page: Kent Grammar School Applications - total views since publication 198,651
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- Primary School OFSTED Outcomes in Kent and Medway for 2015-16 Written on Thursday, 22 September 2016 07:47 Be the first to comment! Read 72 times
Kent primary schools show another strong performance through their OFSTED outcomes for 2015-16, with 25 schools improving their grading, against just 3 declining. 79% of schools were judged Good or Outstanding agasitn a national average of 77% to March (latest national figure published). This is underlined by very good figures in the latest Key Stage 2 attainment results, according to provisional results by Local Authority which place Kent 21st out of 152 Authorities, with 58% of children reaching the expected standard, well above the national figure of 52%. A KCC website providing information for teachers includes the view of the Corporate Director of Education on both OFSTED and Performance in National assessments.
Medway is at last also getting better, with 9 improved OFSTED outcomes against one down, a total of 7$% Good or Outstanding. Provisional KS2 results place Medway 25 places from the bottom with 48%, not good but a marked improvement on its bottom five position every previous year since 2009.
This is the first year that both attainment and progress are assessed at KS2, the new progress measure figures to be released later in the year.
Back in February when I reported on performance for the first half of the year, just three Kent schools had been found Outstanding, but this figure has now leapt to 11, with Blean, Brookfield, Great Chart, Hartley Primary Academy, Roseacre Junior, Sandwich Junior, and Tunstall CofE all improving their level from Good, and Herne CofE Junior leaping two grades from Requires Improvement to Outstanding.
In Medway, there are signs of progress at last with 72% of schools inspected last year found Good or Outstanding, the two schools assessed as Outstanding being Barnsole, up two levels from Requires Improvement, and Horsted Infants, up from Good. Two academies Oasis Skinner Street and Saxon Way are both up from Special Measures to Good.
You will find latest Local Authority and National figures at the foot of this article.Read more...
- Meopham School - Consultation on becoming a Grammar School Written on Friday, 16 September 2016 11:41 4 comments Read 391 times
Meopham School in Gravesham, a non-selective mixed academy that has achieved excellent GCSE results this year, is proposing to change its status to become a mixed grammar school from September 2018.
This school, with a current intake of 160 students and run by the Swale Academies Trust, has published a Consultation document about the plan. This outlines the proposal if the recommendations of the recently published government Green Paper allowing non-selective schools to convert to grammar schools are approved. Current students at the school would be able to continue on their present courses.
I can see there would be strong demand for such a school if it came into being, as outlined below, but there are also massive problems for non-selective children in an area where there is already enormous pressure on non-selective places.
This is just the first proposal nationally to become public, and gives rise to speculation about several other possibilities of a similar nature across the county.
Please note: What follows are my initial reactions to breaking news today, but I will return to it, with a more measured response and updates as they arise.Read more...
- Sevenoaks Annexe Written on Sunday, 11 September 2016 22:57 Be the first to comment! Read 214 times
There has been considerable press coverage, following the claim in the Sunday Times that there will be a new school on the Sevenoaks annexe site for boys.
It is of course not that simple. Quite simply, there are no regulations at present in place to allow any such development, not even a boys’ annexe.
Paul Carter, Leader of KCC, who has driven the project from its beginning and now appears to have his vision fully vindicated, appears quite clear that buildings will be constructed over and above those for the girls' annexe. There is a fall-back position in that it is reported that if no school or annexe is allowed, alternative short term use is being planned.
It has been clear for years that Mrs May, even as Home Secretary was in favour of expansion of grammar schools, possibly by creation of annexes, as I wrote in November 2014. Her current ideas are clearly proving very controversial, and I see no point in adding to the debate.
However, as I also wrote in May 2015 after the General Election, about a possible boys’ annexe in Sevenoaks to balance the one being built for the girls of Weald of Kent Grammar: “the pressure to sort this one could become irresistible!” It is starting to look that way.......Read more...
- Lilac Sky – New Trustees Condemn Previous Financial Dealings, new Names, and other Matters. Written on Tuesday, 06 September 2016 13:10 1 comment Read 863 times
Updated with Statement from Lilac Sky, 9 September, and at the foot of the article, about Henriette le Forestier Preparatory School.
Further Update: Following publication of my article, SchoolsWeek has also published (page 4) an article about Lilac Sky. On page 2, it publishes an article about cheating by use of impostors, in the Kent Test.
Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust, responsible for five academies in Kent and four in Sussex, has now published revised accounts for the year ending 31st August, in which the new Board of Trustees disassociates itself from what has gone before:
Had the trustees been aware of the full extent of the non-compliance with the Trust’s policies on procurement at the date of the approval of the original financial statements, and the remedial action that would be imposed by the EFA as a consequence, it would have cast significant doubt on the trustees’ assessment of the trust’s ability to continue as a going concern.
This news explains the events I have chronicled in three previous articles, most recently here, explaining the decline and fall of the Trust and its academies. It may well be that after January, the Trust will be quietly closed as the Regional Schools Commissioner has removed all its nine academies and allocated them elsewhere (details in my previous articles). Sadly, it is the students who have been punished over the past year by this mismanagement as amongst other events, most notably Marshlands Academy being given a Warning of closure if it failed to improve its standards, the Regional School Commissioner (RSC) instructed the Trust to claw back some of its financial losses by remedial action. This explicitly meant taking funds provided for education, out of the school budgets to pay off the debts.
Through part or all of the past eighteen months, well after the problems initially emerged, the RSC has been supported by Lilac Sky Advisers, appointed by government to assist him in his duties by overseeing the performance of academies, and opening new ones, surely somewhat of a conflict of interest!
Lilac Sky now appears to have decided its name is toxic and so Lilac Sky Outstanding Services Ltd, name recently changed to Lilac Sky Education Ltd on 1st July 2016, has now been completely re-branded as Education 101 Outstanding Education Services Ltd from 1st September. At the same time, the name of Lilac Sky Schools Ltd also bites the dust and this company is now branded Henriette De Forestier Schools Ltd from 31st August, as its seeks to diversify into private education.
I look at the latest news from each of the three companies, Lilac Sky Academy Trust, Education 101, and Henriette De Forestier, in more detail below - there is plenty of it!…Read more...
- Academy and Free School News August 2016 Written on Monday, 05 September 2016 18:36 1 comment Read 439 times
Updated with more Medway Academy news below, 7 September
Although there has been just one new converter academy and five sponsored academies in the past five months from Kent and one from Medway, there are six new academy proposals in Kent and five in Medway working through. Most of the new or proposed sponsored academies have a failed OFSTED in the last few years, academisation wiping out any previous OFSTED Grade and securing freedom from a fresh Inspection for three years – almost an incentive in itself for some schools, and surely a great relief for the two Local Authorities as their statistics improve overnight.
There are also five Free School proposals, some already approved for 2017 opening as the government Free School programme gathers pace, with three of the proposals coming from religious groups as, in Kent as well as elsewhere, faith schools are seeing their biggest expansion in numbers for decades.
This article also looks at Academy matters in Canterbury, Deal, Folkestone, Gravesham, Maidstone, Medway, and Sevenoaks, and major new developments in the Lilac Sky scandal.
You will find a full list of Academies, Academy Groups, Free Schools and University Technical Colleges elsewhere on this website; together with my previous article on Academy and Free School News (the delay explained by my commitments elsewhere in recent months).
Further details on all these items below…..Read more...
- My Final Appeal and - Medway Council Incompetent Yet Again Written on Wednesday, 10 August 2016 07:06 Be the first to comment! Read 667 times
Whilst I have at last decided to retire completely from offering my full appeals service after twelve years I shall, however, continue to run my telephone (and FaceTime) Advisory Service which appears to meet a great need, covering school admissions including secondary schools. This of course means I shall still be very busy between now and the end of October. The Service also covers many other educational issues affecting Kent and Medway families, mainly discussed in these pages. I shall expand this to provide a telephone advisory service for appeals and am currently considering the best way to do this. It is clearly going to take time to revise the pages of the website to reflect this decision.
I also propose to write several articles and expand the information and advice about appeals on the Information pages - the most popular page currently looks at Kent Grammar School Appeals, currently standing at 47,762 hits. None of this takes away from what I regard as the excellent free advice service on admissions and appeals offered by Kent County Council Admissions, always worth a phone call first, although they are not allowed to wander into many areas I cover!
However, my final appeal was to be a classic example of the occasional parental nightmare that comes along, with Medway Council - who else - the villain of the piece.....Read more...