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News and Comments - Kent Independent Education Advice

News and Comments

The latest news posted by Peter J Read; 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 over 800 regular subscribers who receive each news item directly are not included in the number of readers recorded below the item, who have gone beyond the headlines to look at the full article.  If you have a view on any item posted, please leave a comment.

Please feel free to suggest items of news, or areas where comment is needed to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 
News items below appear below as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.

UPDATE 24th March: The comments at the foot of this article give a wide range of perspectives about the issues. 

Jane Robinson, headteacher of Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School, has resigned following an intensive four month Investigation into her actions by a former Interim Director of Education for the County, Professor Ian Craig, which reported three weeks ago. A KCC Press statement states that ‘Following his review of the findings the Chair of Governors considers that a number of actions should be put in place.’ These actions will no doubt have been instrumental in her decision to go, effective from 30th April. 

Simon Langton Girls

You will find a copy of Chairman's letter notifying parents here, completely devoid of any thanks for Mrs Robinson's services, a failure echoed by the Press Statement, which speaks volumes. I understand that if she had not resigned, she would be facing disciplinary action. It is not at present clear if there has been any financial settlement, but it is likely according to precedent. Mrs Robinson has been absent from the school for about two weeks, leading to speculation that she has been suspended and it is unclear, although surely unlikely, if she will return to the school before her resignation becomes effective.


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This article looks at way the plans of the government to invest £320 million in new free schools including possible grammar schools might impinge on Kent and Medway. The proposal is to fund  an initial 30 free schools including some grammar schools in the life of this parliament, as well as helping with the pre-opening capital costs of some of the remaining 110 free schools due to open later. The investment is on top of the current commitment to 500 new schools. 

With all new schools being required to be Free Schools under current legislation, most of this money should be targeted at areas where there is most pressure on provision, although until now this has not always been the situation. One can only hope that government will work more closely with Local Authorities in the future to ensure that new schools are only provided where they are needed.

There are clear areas of present interest in Kent for this limited extra funding. However, on the scale of the investment one can see no more than one or two of the following being taken forward: a possible new grammar school in Herne/Bay Whitstable; additional grammar provision to meet the expanding pressure from London families for places in North West Kent and now Medway grammars; the limited provision of grammar school places in the Wealden area ; the single sex-grammar school annexe in Sevenoaks; the strange proposal to turn Meopham School into a grammar; a range of non-selective pressure areas where new schools are planned (previous funding) or could make sense; together with Primary and Special Schools in a number of areas. Then as always there is Medway…..


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UPDATE 25 March: Following numerous enquiries, I confirm I shall be publishing three articles looking more closely at allocations, including oversubscription and out of county levels next week. These are for Kent grammar, Kent non-selective and Medway secondary schools. 

The increasing numbers of Kent and Medway children applying for secondary school places has created different outcomes for children in the two Authorities. Whilst Kent has seen nearly 300 more children offered their first preference school and a total of 743 new places above the final Planned Admission Numbers (PAN) of 2016 (see below), there is still a slight dip in the number of  successful first preferences, by 0.9 per cent to 85%  Sadly, 616 children did not get any of their choices which, whilst more than last year, is still better than 2015 and most previous years. KCC has been working hard negotiating with popular schools to admit additional pupils with considerable success, in what they describe as “a challenging year”. The number of out of county children being awarded Kent places has hardly changed from 2016, settling at 810, although some of these will drop out as local alternatives present themselves.

The picture is very different in Medway although it is hard to be precise for, as always, their data and press release are very skimpy, the latter also being ridiculously upbeat and positive. However, the bottom line is that there is a fall of over 5% in the proportion of children being offered their first choice of school, and a near doubling of the number getting none of their choices from 77 to 142 children (approximate figures I have calculated from the percentages given). According to Cabinet Member Martin Potter “This is great news”!

As well as more information, and the tables of outcomes below, you will find a District by District survey of the information I have at present, required scores for super-selective schools, and initial advice at the foot of the article on what to do if you have not been offered the school of your choice. This begins as always with my Corporal Jones mantra, do NOTHING in panic! You may regret it. There is no quick fix. 

I will update this article as I receive further information. As always, when I get a school by school breakdown, I shall publish a fuller analysis, the 2016 articles for Kent grammars here, non-selectives here and Medway schools here.  


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Tuesday, 14 February 2017 20:37

Website Review of the Year 2016

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.


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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......


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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.

Jane Porter 2

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........


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Saturday, 28 January 2017 06:07

Medway GCSE results 2016: Final

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. 

Rochester Grammar 

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 ......


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Friday, 20 January 2017 11:53

Kent 2016 Final GCSE Tables

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.

Meopham 2

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.

NTC5   Copy

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. 

Orchards 1

 

Further information below. including the performance of individual schools......


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