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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: peter@kentadvice.co.uk.

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

Kent County Council has set up a Select Committee of County Councillors to explore social mobility in its Grammar Schools, adopting the principle that children from all backgrounds must have the same opportunities to flourish and succeed within the education system.

A Kent Messenger report on the first day’s proceedings, notes that: Mr Patrick Leeson, Kent’s Education Director talking about the achievement gap between poorer pupils and those without disadvantage, stated: “We have seen some movement in narrowing the gap but it is minute. Greater social mobility will only come about if the whole school system does better for children on free school meals.”

Of the 1,435 children on free school meals who sat the eleven plus in 2014, just 292 - about 8% - passed. The number of children on free school meals attending Kent grammar schools remains low at 3%, compared with 13% in non-selective schools, according to KCC data, although see further detail below.

However, good news was that those children from less well-off backgrounds who went to a grammar school did almost as well in their GCSE exams as others, with a gap of just 2% in the 5 A-C* plus maths and English success rate....


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Tuesday, 09 February 2016 20:19

Rights of Access to School Educational Records

I am regularly asked about the legal right of a parent to see their child’s full educational record, with too many schools attempting to block release of information that could prove embarrassing, lead to a complaint about the school or ease admission to another school. 

If the child attends a maintained school, parents have an independent right of access to their child’s educational record.

However, there is no equivalent legal right to access your child’s educational record for an academy or free school, or indeed a private school and it is likely to depend on the contractual relationship between the parent and the school

Personally and professionally I find this wholly morally unacceptable, but sadly government has acted to strip parents of what in any civilised society would surely be regarded as a human right, as acknowledged by the different rules for maintained schools.

There is, however, a get out in that the child themselves attending any type of school have a right of access under the Data Protection Act 1998 to their own information. This is known as the right of subject access. When a child cannot act for themselves or the child gives permission, parents will be able to access this information on their behalf. See below for more details. 

If, however, you have a concern about a school's information rights practices then raise it with the Information Commissioners Office.  

You will find the full detail here, or else read on...


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The issues arising from an analysis of the results of the recent seriously flawed Medway Test for grammar school admission are even greater than last year, with:
A mistake in calculating the pass mark by Medway Council, according to their own rules - depriving 40 Medway children of grammar school places;
The Review process selecting fewer than half the number of children it is targeted to choose, because of insufficient quality of school work presented - another 30 children denied places;
Continued powerful bias towards girls and older children with 21% more girls than boys found suitable for grammar school. The highly unsatisfactory Review process selected fourteen Medway children born in the first quarter of the school year, compared to just one in the fourth quarter.
The Council excuse is that the process works as it all comes right in the end (it doesn’t)!
With the test and Review both being so biased towards girls and older children, and the inability of the Council to apply their own formula for calculating the pass mark, it is surely time for it to be replaced by a process that is fit for purpose.
The school with the highest percentage of pupils being found selective is St William of Perth Catholic Primary with 47%, followed remarkably by Temple Mill Primary with 42%.

For further information on all these headlines, read on…


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Thursday, 21 January 2016 15:50

2015 GCSE & A Level Results in Kent and Medway

Updated 25th January

State school educated children in Kent and Medway both maintain their above average performance at GCSE and A Level. Nationally, 57.1% of children achieved five GCSEs Grades A-C, including English and maths, up from 56.6% last year. However, both have slipped this year, Kent from 58.1% down to 57.3%, whilst Medway has declined from 58.8% to 57.8%.

At A Level, a range of measures is available each of limited value, with Kent above national average  on point score per A Level entry, and below on percentage of students achieving three A Levels. In Medway, measures are generally slightly below national averages. 

The Government twist on the GCSE story that any school below the government floor target of 40% of children gaining 5 Grades A-C including English and maths is failing, is simply not valid in a selective county such as Kent. This is because on average 25 children out of every hundred, all of whom should have reached the floor target, are taken away from our non-selective schools as they are attending grammar schools. Simple arithmetic shows that removing these should bring the floor target for non-selective schools down to 20% and by that measure, just four in Kent are Failing. My bigger concern is that too many selective schools are under achieving.

For me, the outstanding highlights are: High Weald Academy in Cranbrook, at 59% five A--Cs, up from 31% in 2014, to be seventh best non-selective in Kent, but still suffering from unfair lack of popularity with parents, dating back to its pre academy status as an OFSTED failed school; Bennett Memorial in Tunbridge Wells, at 72% still regularly highest performing non-selective school in Kent; Folkestone School for Girls, one of just two grammar schools with 100%; with Chatham Grammar School for Boys, on 99%, best performing Medway grammar, but in Special Measures just two years previously; and  Dover Grammar School for Girls, the highest performing school in Kent at A Level, by average point score per student coming above all the prestigious and super-selective grammar schools. ...

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The anti-grammar school campaign, Comprehensive Future has made clear today it is abandoning its attempt to launch a High Court Injunction to halt the proposed Sevenoaks Annex to Weald of Kent Grammar School, so building can now commence.

Sevenoaks

Cranbrook School, Kent’s only remaining 13-18 grammar school has been trying to come up with a proposal to change to 11-18 for at least three years, against fierce opposition from many parents of children attending local private schools, but has now put forward a compromise  that will take seven further years to implement fully.

Cranbrook

 Highsted Grammar School has put forward a proposal for consultation to set an additional alternative Test for admission for girls, in line with grammar schools in Dover, Gravesham (girls) and Shepway.

Kent County Council has set up a Select Committee of Councillors to explore opportunities for wider access to grammar schools for disadvantaged pupils. 

Barton Court Grammar School, having failed in its attempt to expand and move to Herne Bay, has now seen planning permission approved for a major expansion on its current site, which will allow an increased intake.

I also look at staying on rates for grammar school Sixth Forms which reveal a remarkable range of results, ranging from Dartford Grammar that has 73% more students in Year 12 than Year 11, to Folkestone School for Girls with 35% fewer. 


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Wednesday, 13 January 2016 04:45

Academy& Free School News, January 2016.

There are two new academies, Kingsnorth Cof E Primary and Temple Mill Primary in Strood, since my last report, together with three new applications – Brenchley and Matfield Primary, Westgate Primary and a new primary at Ebbsfleet Garden City. Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar is also consulting on forming a multi-academy trust.

 The Academy Monopoly game continues to run, with Marsh Academy now being managed by the Skinners Company Trust, Mascalls School joining the Leigh Academy Group and taking over the running of its three troubled Maidstone Primary Schools, and  Chantry Primary in Gravesend being taken over by Greenacre School in Chatham after the failure of the Meopham Community Schools Trust.

The opening of the new Bishop Chavasse Free School in Tonbridge opening has been delayed by a year to 2017; this year's newly opened primary academies are taking time to  attract pupils, with all having vacancies in Reception, several with over 50% empty spaces.

You will find a full list of Academies, Academy Groups and Free Schools elsewhere on the website....


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Saturday, 09 January 2016 19:39

Further analysis of Kent test results

I have now had further opportunity to look at data relating to the recent Kent Test outcomes for Admission in September 2016, with a summary of the statistics below.  
Headlines are:
Girls again out-perform boys both on automatic passes and on Headteacher Assessments (HTAs, see below)
The pass mark of 106 in each of English, Maths and Reasoning, for the second year running, means that some children, a third of the way down the ability range, are being given automatic entry to grammar school. New theory below.
The overall Kent pass percentage of 26.1% is above the target of 25%, thanks to high proportion of successful HTAs again, especially in East Kent, notably Canterbury.
Highest proportion of grammar success are both from East Kent primary schools: Challock and Tunstall.
The rise in out of county test passes from 1494 in 2014, to 1974 this year, masks situations such as the primary school in Croydon which had 27 of its 90 children taking the Kent Test. Why?

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Success rates at admission appeals for Kent and Medway secondary schools have fallen significantly for 2015 for the second successive year, with chances of success at primary school appeals remaining extremely low, as can be seen from my previous article on 2014 appeals. You will find further historic data for Kent here, and for Medway here

Kent and Medway School Appeal Outcomes 2015
2015 2014
Appeals Held Number % Upheld Number % Upheld
Kent Non-Selective 484 30% 335 33%
Kent Grammar 1587 37% 1667 42%
Medway Non-Selective 178 34% 122 24%
Medway Grammar 245 40% 226 47%
TOTAL SECONDARY 2494 35% 2350 40%
Kent Primary 292 0.7% 340 1.5%
Medway Primary  63  1.6% 65 0%

The secondary figures hide enormous differences between schools, and variations from year to year, key figures being given in the Individual School sections for Kent and Medway elsewhere om this website, as these are updated.

For grammar schools, numbers range from Chatham and Clarendon Grammar (Ramsgate) with 146 appeals (up from 102 last year) of which 33 were upheld, through to Cranbrook School, one appeal (6 last year) which was not upheld. For non-selective schools, highest were St George’s CofE in Broadstairs with 68 appeals (13 successful), and Brompton Academy in Medway with 58 appeals (7 successful), through to three schools with no successful appeals.

For Infant Schools where Infant Class Legislation applies (see below), there were 355 appeals heard across Kent and Medway by Local Authority Panels, with just 3 successful.

You will find further information and advice on school appeals here, with more data and explanation of the 2015 figures below…..


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