........... to the Home Page of Kentadvice.co.uk, where you will find the latest news and comment directly below this introduction. You can receive regular news and blog items as they are published via the RSS link at the foot of the page, or the email notification on the RHS. For blog items you need to use the separate RSS link. The website contains over 350 pages of news, comment and information which you can access through the index on the right or the search engine above.
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.
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. News items appear as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.
Medway Council Education & Children's Services: all change at the top
The Medway Council Member with responsibility for Children’s Services, Mr Les Wicks, has lost his job in a reshuffle of the Medway Council Cabinet this week. His departure will be widely welcomed by the many families who have been dissatisfied with the quality of education provided by Medway Council, and Mr Wicks’ refusal to accept responsibility for those failures. The Council Leader may have been influenced by an 800 person petition to get rid of him, and regular demands from the Labour side for his resignation, but his dreadful performance at a Medway Council meeting in February will surely have been a more important factor.......Read more...
11 Plus results by age: Kent passes the test; Medway Test discriminates sharply, especially against younger boys
There has been considerable discussion in the media in the last few days following reports claiming that children born in the early part of the school academic year, which runs from September to August, do the best in school, and in life. As a June birth I had a particular interest in this topic, especially when there has been reference to 11 plus testing also giving this advantage. Last year I collected the relevant figures for the Kent and Medway 11 plus tests for 2012 entry, and give these below, followed by my conclusions. However, in summary, where there are multiple choice tests which are age standardised, there is little difference. But when written work is also taken into account to the large extent that happens in the Medway test, then there is a real discrepancy between performance related to month of birth. This effect is compounded by the sharp difference in pass rate between boys and girls resulting in real discrimination against younger boys in the Medway test .Read more...
Free School (inc. Wye Free School) and Academy News: May 2013
Free schools come first this month, with Wye Free School appearing to be in a state of uncertainty as to its future. WyeWeb, the local community website, has published a letter reportedly sent to a local landowner by a firm of consultants acting for the Department for Education. This seeks to find out if he is willing to sell or lease land "for educational purposes". Given that at present the Wye Free School only has claim to the Kempe Centre, a more building which belonged to Wye College, on a lease for just three years it is reasonable to deduce that the DofE is desperately trying to provide a long term future for the school. This is a long way from the original concept, which I described as somewhat of a rural idyll, of setting up a school to make use the long educational tradition of Wye College in its historic buildings. I have discussed earlier developments elsewhere on this website, the article also providing links to previous comments. Meanwhile, the WyeWeb website also reproduces an article reported as being from Private Eye, number 1337, 5-18 April 2013, page 30. This makes some highly critical comments about the performance of the controversial United Learning Trust who are to run the new Free School...... Read more...
Kent Primary School OFSTEDs greatly improved, Medway still a shocker; and then there is Maidstone
The following article triggered great media interest, being the main Radio Kent story for Wednesday 8th, and a major story on ITV Meridian that evening. It was also featured in a controversial article in the Kent Messenger.
When OFSTED published its annual Report back in November, there was strong criticism in the media of the woeful performance of Kent and Medway Primary schools, which I covered in a previous article.
This told the story up until August last year, when OFSTED introduced a new 'tougher' inspection regime. Amongst other changes, it replaced the 'satisfactory' category of Inspection outcome by 'requires improvement'. The 'inadequate' category still has two subdivisions: 'Serious Weaknesses' & 'Special Measures'. The change was preceded by a new policy from KCC, partly designed to force up Kent OFSTED standards. I have been keeping a record of OFSTED Inspection results since March 2010, and the comparisons seven months into the new regime make fascinating reading. The headlines are:
Kent OFSTED performance greatly improved; nearly half of Kent primary schools have improved their grading
Further failure by Medway Council and its schools
Maidstone schools continue their dire OFSTED record
Amongst other conclusions, the fear that the new 'tougher' OFSTED regime would see more schools failing OFSTED is clearly not true on present figures in Kent. What is sadly true in Kent is that whilst failing schools, and those now requiring improvement come under increasing pressure to become academies, the rise in Kent standards means that most of these changes should not have been necessary, as Kent now appears to know how to improve performance in its schools. A great pity it has taken so long! ........
School Admission Appeal Panels: Can you complain about the outcome?
We are now well into the secondary school admission appeals timetable, with upwards of 1200 appeals being heard for Year Seven places in Kent selective and non-selective schools between April and June. Overall it is likely that some 40% of these will be successful, although the proportions can vary widely from school to school, and for individual schools from year to year. In my experience whatever the result, the overwhelming majority of parents find that the appeal process has been conducted in a professional and fair manner, with parents put at their ease as far as possible to enable them to put across their points confidently. However, in a small minority of cases, there are problems with the appeal process, and parents will seek to complain in the hope of winning a fresh appeal in front of a new panel. You cannot complain successfully simply because you don't like like the result. Instead you have to show not only maladministration by the Appeal Panel or the Admission Authority, but also possible injustice as a result of that maladministration. In other words, just because the process is carried out incorrectly you cannot win a fresh appeal, it also needs to be shown that the maladministration could have led to a different result.
Worryingly, Some 20% of all complaints nationally about school admission appeals are about Kent schools and the Independent Appeal Panels that run the appeals, with an even higher proportion of the complaints being upheld........Read more...
Two Catholic schools with failed OFSTEDs but very different futures - St Edmund's Dover & St Philip Howard, Herne Bay; & then there is St John Fisher, Chatham
Now including Updates on St Edmund's and St John Fisher
Two recent failed OFSTEDs at St Edmund's Catholic School (secondary), Dover and St Phillip Howard Catholic Primary School, Herne Bay have seen the schools heading in very different directions. Also, a question. Why does a struggling Catholic School in Medway set out to discourage non-catholics from applying?
St Edmund's, which was a Voluntary Aided School run by the Archdiocese of Southwark Education Commission, but coming under the aegis of KCC, is to be turned into an academy, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Southwark. Even before OFSTED Early action was taken by KCC, issuing a warning notice which saw positive changes noted by OFSTED. It is difficult to see why the Archdiocese should have more success with total control in view of their failure to act with partial control, but this is surely a question they need to answer.
The Archdiocese of Southwark Education Commission has recommended that St Philip Howard be closed and this proposal is out for consultation.....Read more...