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........... 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

If you need more general information please email peter@kentadvice.co.uk. For specific advice issues please go to the Contact page.    

For the year 2017, this website had 168,222 certified visits, from 106,810 different users, who carried out 334,821 page views.
This was in addition to the 958 email subscribers, along with 1,790 by RSS nearly all of whom are based in England, with 1,750 in Kent . These include parents, schools, education officers, politicians and the media who each received the 95 News and Comment articles published during the year. 
Most Popular Page: Kent Grammar School Applications - total views since first publication 294,251, and 39,105 in 2017.  

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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: peter@kentadvice.co.uk. \nNews items appear as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.

  • Medway Secondary School Allocations for September 2019: Initial Information and Advice

    The 2019 Medway Council Press Statement on secondary school allocation appears to cover up a large fall in the proportion of pupils offered a place at one of their preferred schools. This is accompanied by another fall in the proportion of children being offered their first or second choice.

    All we are allowed to learn is that all 3300 Medway children who applied for secondary school places received offers, that 89% of them received a first or second choice, with over 90% receiving one of their preferences, and that 736 children from outside Medway were considered for places.

    For 2018 entry, the equivalent statement recorded that over 95.5% (actually 95.6%) of Medway children received a preference, so this appears to be a sharp and worrying fall, with nearly one in ten Medway families being allocated to a school they did not choose.

    Medway

    Once again, the council continues its attempts to hide the facts from local residents (not serving you), but the Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services is ‘very pleased that many have been allocated a place at one of their preferred schools’. Unfortunately, too many have not! He continues: ‘it a testament to the team’s hard work that the majority of families receive offers at one of their preferred schools (an ‘is’ would have been helpful from the Council’s education leader), both statements suggesting the great disappointment that these figures imply. This follows on from the scandal of the Medway Review I highlighted recently.

    There is initial advice at the foot of this 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. There is also a link to the limited telephone advisory service I now offer.
    Read more...
    Written on Saturday, 02 March 2019 15:39 Be the first to comment! Read 590 times
  • Kent Secondary School Allocations for September 2019: Initial Information and Advice
    Update 8th March
    In his weekly letter to Kent Education Professionals, Matt Dunkley CBE, Corporate Director Children, Young People and Education for KCC writes: 'I am delighted to report that more than 95% of children will receive an offer from one of their four preferences after more families than ever before applied for a Secondary school place in Kent. A total of 21,473 applications were received, up 3.58% on last year’s cohort, while the number of Kent applicants rose from 17,442 in 2018 to 17,959 this year, a 2.96% increase. Yet despite these increases, the number of pupils getting a place at one of their first preference schools continues to increase. Of the applicants, 17,959 were from pupils living within Kent and over 90% of these will get one of their top two preference schools'.
    His delight will come as a great disappointment to the many families who have lost out on places this year as noted below. For  79.1% of  the Kent applicants were  offered their first choice. This is the lowest percentage for at least nine years. 837 children been given none of their four choices, at 4.7% of the total, again the highest proportion for at least nine years, up on last year’s 765 and up by 75% over the 2016 proportion of 2.7%. The proportion of children being offered one of their top two preferences at 90.3% is down on 90.7% in 2018, and again lowest for nine years. Hardly a matter of delight. At least he should be honest about the challenges you face! Fortunately, this website contains the best data available for those professionals. 
    This article was written for March 1st, National Secondary Allocation Day. I am updating it as I receive further information relating to individual schools. Please note I am very grateful for families who let me know what is happening at local schools. There is  also a parallel article for Medway  and another in about two weeks time when I am sent data released, providing full details of allocation, over subscription and vacancies for all Kent secondary schools, which also be posted on the Individual Schools Section. 

    Super Selective Scores now below, along with hot spots.

    My 2018 articles on oversubscription and vacancies in individual Kent schools will almost certainly still reflect the general picture in individual districts for non-selective and grammar schools.  I already have the details of the number of first choices for each Kent secondary school, which you will find in my Individual School section here, together with the pattern for individual schools. 

    17,959 Kent children applied for places in Kent secondary schools, 517 more than in 2018, with 79.1% of them being offered their first choice. This is the lowest percentage for at least nine years, a further 0.6% down on last year. 837 children been given none of their four choices, at 4.7% of the total, again the highest proportion for at least nine years, up on last year’s 765. I know that a number of additional school places have been created at pinch points across the county, but I anticipate hearing of some very difficult situations for some of the children with no school of their choice.

    Many of the super selective schools have seen considerable increases in their requirements.  

    In spite of the inexorable increase in out of county applications to Kent schools, up 225 to 3,514, exactly the same number, 818, were offered places, as in 2018. As always this  will have been partially balanced by around 500 going to schools outside Kent.

    You will find more information, including a look at some of the pressure points as they become apparent, below. These include North West Kent both selective and non-selective, and non-selective Swale, Thanet and Tunbridge Wells.  You will also find required scores for super-selective schools (all information on both situations welcomed) together with the tables of outcomes

    There is 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. 

    There is also a link to the limited telephone advisory service I now offer. 

    Read more...
    Written on Friday, 01 March 2019 06:05 3 comments Read 2352 times
  • Meopham School Outstanding Ofsted - And then there is Holmesdale

     Swale Academies Trust (SAT) has secured a second Ofsted Outstanding school, after Meopham was found Outstanding in January (published earlier this week). This makes KCC’s decision to block SAT from taking over the failed Holmesdale School for most of 2018 look even more shocking as the school blundered from bad to worse under its control during the year. 

    Meopham School had suffered from poor leadership for as long as I can remember, culminating in 2012 when it was placed in Special Measures. An ‘Anywhere but Meopham’ cry was regularly made to me by parents seeking advice on how to avoid the school. SAT took it over the following year. It has rapidly improved ever since, with a ‘Good’ Ofsted Report just two years later, followed by a Short Inspection last year. Meopham has been delivering excellent GCSE results for its pupils for the past three years, being the second and third best performing non-selective school in the county at Progress 8 and in the top seven for Attainment 8 in each year. Rightly it has now seen last year’s Short Inspection converted to Outstanding. Not surprisingly, it has become heavily oversubscribed with 224 first choices for its 140 places for September. A new Chair of Governors was appointed last September, Diana Choulerton, an Education Consultant who until recently was one of Her Majesty's Inspectors. Swale Academies Trust doesn't take chances!

    By contrast, after Holmesdale School was placed in Special Measures a year ago, the school and its pupils were disgracefully hung out to dry by Kent County Council. KCC refused to hand the management of the school over to SAT even though it had been selected as the Sponsoring School when Holmesdale was served with an Academy Order and left it devoid of proper support until grudgingly yielding it to SAT at the end of November.

    As well as further details below, I also look at the performance of Swale Academies Trust in an attempt to see why KCC was so strongly opposed to them  being involved with Holmesdale School. 

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    Written on Thursday, 21 February 2019 18:45 3 comments Read 484 times
  • Medway Test Analysis for 2019 Admission: Review fails Medway children again

    The problems with the Medway grammar school selection process just keep recurring, with the Medway Review procedure proving yet again to be not fit for purpose. You will find an analysis of outcomes below. 

    The headline is once again the failure of the Review procedure, with  the Council announcing as always that up to 2% of the cohort of Medway children would be successful at Review, in addition to the 23% who passed the Medway Test directly. In the event, just four children from 159 hopeful Medway families that went to Review were successful for 2019 admission, just 0.12% of the cohort. What a farce, being short of the target by 63 children, but a very sad one for all those who falsely thought they were in with a chance. Not one of the 43 candidates from local private schools or outside of Medway was successful at Review.  

    It is also an indictment of the work of Medway Primary schools according to the Review Panels which are made up of local secondary headteachers, who found work submitted by local primary schools to be so poor that almost no further children were found worthy of a grammar school place through the process from the 159 considered. 

    Sadly, it gets even worse for those families. The School Admission Code of Practice rules that children who are unsuccessful at a Review process cannot have an appeal upheld unless there has been unfairness in the process (rarely proven). There are a few exceptions as explained below, but for the majority of the 155 families unsuccessful at Review, there is now no chance of winning an Appeal.

    The two areas of bias in the Medway Test remain: older pupils do much better than those born towards the end of the school year; and girls do better than boys.

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    Written on Monday, 04 February 2019 12:11 2 comments Read 368 times
  • Maidstone Grammar School Ofsted: Down from Outstanding

    Update (11/3) Oakwood Park Grammar has also had a recent Inspection and seen its Outstanding lost to Good probably because of disappointing GCSE results, although the Report acknowledges the great improvement for 2018, as reported below, in spite of its two Outstanding categories, compared with the MGS one. I understand that a third Kent school has also lost its Outstanding status, although not yet published., 

    Maidstone Grammar School (MGS), one of Kent’s flagship selective schools, has lost its Outstanding Ofsted status following its recent Inspection with Report published yesterday. The Inspection was presumably triggered after 'legitimate concerns' (according to Ofsted below) had been expressed about the decline in its academic performance.

    MGS3

    The headlines of the Report, published in January, refer to disappointing GCSE results in 2017. However, they choose not  to mention that those for 2018 were  considerably worse. These saw the school delivering the fourth lowest Progress 8 score of any of the 38 Kent and Medway grammar schools, the government’s preferred measure of performance. It was eighth lowest for Attainment 8. The results come from a school that selected most of its pupils by setting a high pass score in the Kent Test, and yet still performed worse on both d than the other local grammar, Oakwood Park which recruits a significant number of pupils from appeal.  You will find an article on performance of  Kent grammar schools here including details of MGS relative performance, and background to Maidstone Grammar data here.

    This Report also comes with a mystery, as explained below. 

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    Written on Tuesday, 12 February 2019 06:56 8 comments Read 1213 times
  • GCSE Performance for Medway Schools: 2018

    The key measure of GCSE Performance is Progress 8 (full table here) .Under this measure Medway is slightly above the National Average of -0.02, at +0.02 (with just one school Well Below Average, contrasted with Kent's 15). Attainment 8 (full table here) has Medway just below the National score of 46.5, at 46.0.

    Highlights:  Three grammar schools have Well Above Average Progress Grades led by Rochester Grammar, followed by Chatham Girls. Holcombe Grammar is at the foot with an Average Progress Grade coming below the non-selective Sir Thomas Aveling. Five of the six grammars have Attainment scores within three points of each other, again led by Rochester Grammar, with Holcombe  again limping along behind. Chatham Grammar Girls comes top for the percentage of pupils gaining Level 5 or better in English and Maths.

    Amongst non-selective schools, pupils at Thomas Aveling and Rainham Girls score above Average Progress grades. The only school scoring Well below Average is unsurprisingly, Medway UTC. Rainham Girls leads Thomas Aveling in Attainment, with Victory Academy at the foot, just behind Medway UTC.

    You will find all the individual outcomes for Medway schools here.

    Read more...
    Written on Friday, 26 October 2018 06:40 4 comments Read 883 times