........... 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.
For the year 2016, this website had 181.752 certified visits, from 114,608 different users, who carried out 377,229 page views.
This was in addition to the thousand plus subscribers, including parents, schools, education officers, politicians and the media who each received the 102 News and Comment articles published during the year.
Most Popular Page: Kent Grammar School Applications - total views since publication 253,261, and 44,603 in 2016.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. \nNews items appear as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.
- Website Review of the Year 2016 Written on Tuesday, 14 February 2017 20:37 1 comment Read 129 times
This article looks back on the website and my services over the past year (and a bit) since January 2016.
The year again proved very busy with 114,608 different browsers making a total of 181,752 visits. I published 72 news and comment items, the most popular being “Maidstone Girls and Invicta Grammar Schools: Sixth Form Admissions”, with an astonishing 20,511 hits in the six weeks since publication last month. Next was “Kent Reception and Junior School Allocations 2016: Oversubscription and Vacancies”, the 14 most popular pages being listed below.
Much of the information accessed from the right hand side of each page has been present and regularly updated since this version of the website was launched in 2010. Unsurprisingly the most popular page provides information and advice on ‘Kent Grammar School Applications’ with a total of 255,106 visitors since then.
In addition, the site now has around a thousand subscribers, including most importantly the many parents for whom the site is primarily intended. It is also tracked by local and national media, state and private schools, local and national government officers, and politicians. Further information about the website, stories I have covered, and other matters below.
I have now decided to retire completely from my Personal Appeals Advice Service begun in 2003, but am continuing with my telephone consultancy which offers an advisory service for school appeals and other education matters, as explained here.
The website will continue and expand as time permits. As you can see, I have now started to accept appropriate advertisements and welcome enquiries.Read more...
- Academy and UTC news in Kent and Medway, to February Written on Sunday, 05 February 2017 05:58 Be the first to comment! Read 633 times
This article covers the opening of ten new primary academies, with a further eleven primary school proposals to become academies in Kent and Medway over the past five months.
I also look at academies under pressure because of falling rolls – Swadelands, Hayesbrook, New Line Learning and High Weald; more secondary headteachers lose their jobs – together with the numbers crisis at Kent’s first UTC.
Two new secondary schools are now on the stocks in Maidstone and Dartford, and the number of all through academies for pupils aged 4-19 is doubling to four, with Kent's two St George's CofE secondary schools expanding to take in at primary age.
I also cover a range of grammar school issues in Maidstone, West and North West Kent, and Chatham......Read more...
- Jane Porter, previously Executive Headteacher Whitehill Primary School, prohibited from Teaching Indefinitely Written on Friday, 03 February 2017 22:44 8 comments Read 2454 times
Update (Friday 10th): The Gravesend Messenger this week has published a three page article about Jane Porter, including the front page, as well as an internet comment section further back.
Jane Porter, formerly Executive Headteacher of Whitehill Primary School in Gravesend, has been found guilty of Professional Misconduct.
The Professional Conduct Panel of the National College of Teaching and Leadership published the decision on Friday, taken on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education.
“Ms Jane Porter is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England. Furthermore, in view of the seriousness of the allegations found proved against her, I have decided that Ms Porter shall not be entitled to apply for restoration of her eligibility to teach” (although she has right of appeal to the High Court within 28 days).
Whilst being in temporary post as Executive Headteacher of Kings Farm Primary School, at the same time as substantive head of Whitehill Primary in Gravesend, the Panel found that “it is evident that throughout her time at the school, Ms Porter had a cavalier disregard of key rules and procedures…Throughout these proceedings, Ms Porter showed no remorse for her actions and demonstrated a lack of compassion”. The panel found that Ms Porter "Having engaged in sustained and serious bullying, whilst failing to manage the running of the school the results of which included breaches in health and safety and safeguarding"…
Some of the many issues are explored further below; others are contained in the series of articles I have previously written on this website........Read more...
- Medway GCSE results 2016: Final Written on Saturday, 28 January 2017 06:07 Be the first to comment! Read 213 times
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 Medway above average at 0.05, against a National average of -0.03.
Headlines: Whilst the Rochester Grammar School heads up both tables, non-selective schools take the next highest Progress score places, as distinct from Kent where the grammar schools dominate. Second is The Thomas Aveling School, followed by Brompton Academy and Rainham School for Girls, all above the national average and unsurprisingly all heavily oversubscribed for admission. Next highest grammar is Chatham Grammar School for Boys (now Holcombe Grammar School). Bringing up the rear in both tables is St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive. No Medway secondary schools are below the floor target, which may trigger government intervention (there are seven in Kent). For Attainment 8, all the six grammar schools are unsurprisingly in the top spots, led by the two super-selectives, Rochester Grammar and Rainham Mark, although Fort Pitt, is at the foot of the grammars in both tables. Highest non-selectives are again Rainham Girls and Thomas Aveling, this time joined by The Howard.
Further information below, including the performance of individual schools, and a look at another measure, the English Baccalaureate ......Read more...
- Kent 2016 Final GCSE Tables Written on Friday, 20 January 2017 11:53 1 comment Read 845 times
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.
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.
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.
Further information below. including the performance of individual schools......Read more...
- Maidstone Girls and Invicta Grammar Schools: Sixth Form Admissions Written on Sunday, 08 January 2017 19:07 31 comments Read 20978 times
Update: I have been asked by a number of Year 12 families about any advice I can offer to current students who fear for their chances in Year 13. See new heading towards foot of the article.
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...Read more...