Supporting Families
  • banner13
  • banner9
  • banner8
  • banner6
  • banner3
  • banner12
  • banner7
  • banner10
  • banner4
  • banner2
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: peter@kentadvice.co.uk.

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

I am very disappointed there has been no response from KCC to my previous article on Furness School, considering the important issues of finance and integrity it raises. Neither has there been even an acknowledgment of my formal request for the evidence supporting the unlikely assertion that parents of high functioning ASD children are spurning Special School places in favour of Units attached to mainstream schools, critical to the closure proposal, but completely ignored in the closure Consultation document.

The failure of the Local Authority to carry out a proper Equality Impact Assessment, according to the Equality Act, places the whole closure proposal in legal jeopardy.  

I have now written the following letter to Mr Patrick Leeson, KCC Corporate Director of Education and Children's Services:

Dear Mr Leeson,

Like me, you must be both concerned and embarrassed by the two mutually contradictory documents produced by KCC Officers about the future of Furness School, accompanied by the failure to produce an adequate and legal equality impact assessment. 

The situation is made much worse by the fact that the first of the two documents, the Complete Proposal for the re designation of Furness as a Special School for high functioning ASD children left out crucial information whose absence will have misled KCC Education and Children's Services Cabinet Committee members and would surely have affected their decision to approve the proposal.  In particular, the financial crisis that is the prime factor behind the proposed closure of the school just seven months later, would have been starkly evident back in July and so should certainly have been presented to members to make a reasoned decision, whereas there is no mention of finances whatsoever.

My immediate concern is that parents have been invited to a meeting to discuss the consultation document on 24th February, and are surely entitled to answers to the following questions to enable them to understand the issues. Many of the issues are amplified in my article, which I am sure has already been referred to you as a matter of grave concern………


Read more...

I have previously recounted the story so far here, and with previous links. To summarise:

KCC removed the headteacher of Kings Farm primary at Christmas 2013, and replaced him with the headteacher of Whitehill Primary on an Executive basis. This proved a disaster and the Executive Head was removed by KCC in September 2014, leaving a school that had degenerated into chaos. A consultant headteacher was appointed, the Headteacher of Ifield Special School appointed to oversee progress, and although an OFSTED Inspection in October placed the school in Special Measures, it both recorded the mess into which Kings Farm had been left by the previous leadership and the subsequent excellent progress in the school. A spokesman for the Government Standards and Testing Agency subsequently stated: Following an investigation into the administration of this year's Key Stage 2 tests at King’s Farm Primary, in Gravesend, the decision was made to annul all tests results for all children. Any instances of maladministration of the tests are completely unacceptable.” A parallel investigation took place into the Whitehill results with the same result.  

Kings Farm has now had its initial Monitoring Inspection following the Special Measures finding. Now free of the malign influence of Whitehill, the Report is the most positive assessment of any Kent school I have read at this stage, and my congratulations to all concerned. There can now be no doubt where the initial responsibility for the disaster lays.

Meanwhile, KCC had rewarded Whitehill Primary, the most unpopular primary school in Kent with parents, according to one measure, by allocating another 24 children places in the school at the last moment, raising its Reception Class numbers to 114, making it by far the largest all through Primary school in the county……


Read more...
Tuesday, 03 February 2015 17:43

A Level Results in Kent and Medway schools

The 2014 Kent and Medway A Level results have a familiar look to them, with The Judd School once again topping the league table of state and private schools with 62% of its students attaining at least 2 A Grades and a B Grade.

judd

The only other state school in the top seven is Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar, with 41%.

There are a number of tables available, showing different schools to best advantage, but for schools with a lower percentage of top grades, a better measure is the average point score per A Level entry, although Judd is still top again on 257.0. On both measures, Bennett Memorial is as usual the top non-selective school on 212.2 (7% AAB), closely followed by St Simon Stock, 208.9 and then St George’s CofE, Gravesend with 204.6. Bennett is above 7 of Kent’s grammar schools……….


Read more...
Thursday, 29 January 2015 12:59

Kent and Medway GCSE Results

GCSE results published last week show the effects of government changes in results coming into play, as explained below, which have hit many of Kent’s non-selective schools disproportionately. The effect on many private schools offering the IGSE instead of GCSE is to see their results discounted completely, so there is no sensible measure of performance in the private sector. You will find government league tables here.

Overall Kent state school students have once again exceeded the national average as they have for many years with 58.0% succeeding at 5 A-C grades, including English and maths, against a national figure of 56.6%. Medway students have done even better, with 58.8% of students having achieved the standard, as always underlining the disparity with Medway primary school performance.

The top of the table is not surprisingly dominated by the grammar schools, although Skinners is the only one to emerge with 100% success at 5 A-C grades, including English and maths. At 99% come most of the usual suspects: Dartford Grammar Girls; Dover Grammar Girls; Folkestone Girls; Invicta Grammar; Judd; Maidstone Grammar Girls; and Weald of Kent Grammar; along with The Rochester Grammar and Sir Joseph Williamson’s in Medway. Lowest performing grammars are: Simon Langton Boys and Tunbridge Wells Boys at 93%, along with Chatham Grammar Boys in Medway; Sir Roger Manwood’s at 92%; Borden Grammar 91%; Dane Court at 90%; and Dover Grammar Boys at 85%.

For non-selective schools, top performers as always are Bennett Memorial (CofE), 78% and St Gregory’s Catholic, 72%, both Tunbridge Wells. Then come: St George’s Cof E, Gravesend and St Simon Stock Catholic 67%, closely followed by St John’s Catholic, Gravesend on 64%. The highest performing non-church schools are: Hillview, Tonbridge, 62%; and Wrotham 59%.

At the bottom end, the effect of the government changes can be seen to full effect as many non-selective schools have seen the strategies they used to promote their academic performance discounted. Wholly unsurprisingly, they are headed up by The Marlowe Academy, eighth lowest performing state school in the country at 13%.  Others are: Hartsdown Academy and Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academy at 19%; Pent Valley Technology College at 21%; St George’s CofE Foundation, Thanet, and Sittingbourne Community College on 22%. Every one of these has seen a sharp fall in performance since 2013, ranging from a 15% drop at Marlowe, through to 32% at Hartsdown. Lowest Medway performance is better, with Strood Academy on 28% (a 15% fall on 2013).

There is considerably more detail below, including a closer look at Thanet which has attracted media attention over the disappointing results of many of its schools........


Read more...

In 2013 KCC made the decision to close The Chaucer Technology School in Canterbury, as the intake had fallen sharply every year but one since 2009 from 202 to 85, with a forecast intake of 57 for September 2014. During that period, the school had reduced its capacity from 235 to 150, but this would still leave at least 62% of places empty in Year 7.  I now have the school census figures for September 2014 and this shows four secondary schools in a worse situation than Chaucer with regard to empty desks.  What is more alarming is that that in 2013 all these four schools again had the highest vacancy rates, all more severe than Chaucer, whilst  in 2012 the only school that separated them was Walmer Science College which KCC closed at the end of that year because of falling numbers.

 Three of these four schools, Marlowe Academy, Oasis Academy Hextable, and High Weald Academy, are probably safe from direct KCC intervention because of their academy status, but must all have problems of viability, including financial pressures and the ability to offer an appropriate curriculum - for example a proper range of courses at GCSE, as the low numbers work through. All three have previously been placed in Special Measures by OFSTED, but have now earned their way out, although still clearly suffering from their reputation.  The fourth is Pent Valley School, Folkestone which actually possesses a ‘Good’ OFSTED assessment, but whose troubles include expansion by more popular neighbouring schools......


Read more...

This article looks at two new Catholic academies in Kent and two fresh applications to become academies in Medway, for January.

It also considers the progress of the North School sponsorship by Swale Academy Trust, together with other issues relating to change of status of Private Finance Initiative schools, some of which will place a further financial burden on those schools remaining with KCC.

The North 2

The North School


Read more...
Sunday, 18 January 2015 00:00

Stansted Primary School to close

KCC informed parents of children at Stansted CofE Primary School, at a meeting on Thursday, that the school was being considered for closure following a series of poor OFSTED Reports, declining numbers as children were withdrawn from the school and sent elsewhere, and consequent financial difficulties. Stansted is in the Malling area of Kent. 

Stansted

This decision has comes as no surprise, as anticipated when I wrote my previous article below just a week ago, following the latest OFSTED Report,  with OFSTED reporting the number of children having fallen to 35 at the time of the Inspection (it is 34 now). Sadly, the decision to consider closure  is the consequence of bad management and governance at the school, with parents losing confidence with a series of temporary headships, turn-over of teachers, poor teaching, seeing other children removed and overall poor reputation.

KCC has now offered each of the remaining children a place in another school, making the decision to close inevitable. Parents have two weeks to accept or decline the offer. ……..


Read more...

Monitoring OFSTED Inspections for Charles Dickens School in Ramsgate and Stansted CofE Primary School,  in Sevenoaks District, south of Gravesend both of which have previously been placed in Special Measures, are published today. For Charles Dickens, it is very good news, for Stansted, the writing is surely on the wall for its future. 

Charles Dickens School
First up is the Charles Dickens School in Ramsgate, whose previous Inspection placed it in Special Measures. I wrote at the time: “The problem I have with this Report is that whilst it reads as the most critical I have ever read of a Kent secondary school (worse even than Castle), it almost appears to have lost objectivity and to be deliberately vindictive. This sense is compounded by the fact that the Inspection Team invited the Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, to join them on the second day of the Inspection, or was it that the findings of the team were so awful, they needed him to see them for himself”?

Charles Dickens

Looking at today’s very positive Report, one of the briefest I have ever seen indicating the very low level of concern by the OFSTED, it is almost impossible to visualise the same school as was observed just three months previously. This was a ‘Good’ school, as established by the previous OFSTED in 2011, and still is. Further comment below.

Stansted CofE Primary School
Placed in Special Measures in October 2013, the school has limped along subsequently, with a number of Acting Headteachers and two Interim Heads both appointed by KCC, the first being removed because“None of the benchmarks or targets for improvement identified in the statement of action has been achieved”. The fourth Monitoring Inspection Report, out today, surely sounds the death knell over the school’s future, with the Interim Headteacher appointed by KCC, and the Authority apparently squabbling over the best way forward: “Difficulties remain over the school’s acceptance of and the value that the interim headteacher places on external support and challenge. The dispute between the school and the local authority over last year’s writing results has not been resolved”. However the bottom line is that “The school is not making enough progress towards the removal of special measures”, total numbers having fallen to a non-viable 35 children. 

Stansted

 Again, further comment below.

The two Reports between them raise many issues, the most important of which are:

1) There was enormous support for Charles Dickens, its standards and headteacher after the original Inspection. The appearance of the Chief Inspector at the school during the inspection suggests there was another agenda, and this Monitoring Report seriously undermines the findings of that Inspection. I still have confidence in the findings of most OFSTED Inspections, which tend to fit other evidence, but this situation serves to undermine the whole process, never mind the unnecessary damage it has caused the school.  

2) KCC has installed a number of temporary leaders at Stansted, but the school’s decline, which now appears terminal, appears to be in part due to the performance of the two Interim Headteachers, both appointed by KCC. Where is the quality control here?


Read more...
Page 2 of 2