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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 10,790 by RSS nearly all of whom are based in England, with 7,750 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.

  • Holmesdale School: Further Revelations

    Swale Academies Trust (SAT) has engaged in a series of email exchanges with Kent County Council staff, which have been forwarded to me following a Freedom of Information Request. These culminate in serious allegations that KCC tried to block the Trust’s attempts to prepare the failing Holmesdale School for the best possible start in January.

    In particular Swale Academies Trust alleges that: KCC's deliberate and deeply damaging procrastination over the awarding of the support contract left the school without support from June 2018 to late November 2018; KCC attempted to block the appointment of a suitably experienced Headteacher to take on the Headship of Holmesdale at incredibly short notice; and that KCC refused to engage in SAT’s offer to provide Holmesdale with a full complement of teachers for January.

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    Written on Wednesday, 09 January 2019 19:58 Be the first to comment! Read 38 times
  • Rochester Grammar: Radical Change With Cash for Pupil Premium

    The Rochester Grammar School (RGS) is proposing a radical change to its admission rules from September 2020. This follows the government decision to award some £3 million to each of 16 grammar schools including RGS, to enable them to expand on  condition that these schools have plans  to improve access for pupils on Pupil Premium  and to undertake effective partnerships with local primary schools and non-selective secondary schools, to contribute to improved educational outcomes across the wider system.

    .Rochester Grammar

    The school, which is part of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT), has gone out to Consultation to scrap its current academic super-selective status which sees the great majority of its pupils selected through high scores. It plans to become a school that gives admission priority to girls on Pupil Premium from 2020. Then, after several smaller categories (below) it will prioritise local children who have passed the Medway Test no matter what their scores. Given that the Trust runs two Medway grammar schools and has proposed identical admission criteria for both, except that the other school, Holcombe Grammar, is to give no priority whatever to Pupil Premium, so this does not appear a principled decision,  

    I look at wider aspects of local implications of the grammar school expansions in a separate article

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    Written on Friday, 28 December 2018 16:57 3 comments Read 191 times
  • Pupil Premium Grammar School Expansion: Kent and Medway (revised)
    Revision of Previous Article
    Kent County Council has been highly pro-active in promoting grammar school opportunities for pupils on Pupil Premium which has no doubt contributed to the fact that over three quarters of its 32 grammar schools already make provision for this in their Admissions Policies. Kent now appears to have been punished for its success in following government policy!

    Medway Council appears not have noticed the shift in priorities and as a result just one out of the six grammar schools currently has a relevant policy. Certainly, there is no evidence that Rochester Grammar, the one local school offered funds for expansion in return for developing a social mobility policy, has ever shown any interest before in such a development. Further, such an expansion when Medway has a large surplus of grammar school places for girls, appears pointless, and could place Chatham Grammar School for Girls at risk through lack of numbers as explained here. It in turn is now chasing London girls and so should survive. 

    I look below at issues in Kent and Medway in more detail. 

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    Written on Friday, 28 December 2018 18:49 Be the first to comment! Read 546 times
  • Controversial Proposal for New Primary Provision for Girls only in Medway

    Rainham School for Girls, a non-selective secondary school in Medway,  is consulting on a controversial scheme to set up the first new primary section for girls only in the country. It would have an intake of 60 girls, beginning in 2020-21. There is currently just one all through girls school in the country,  a girls' private school founded in the 19th century that only became a state school recently, and remains a member of the Independent Girls School Day Trust, a very different set up to that proposed for Rainham Girls. There are just seven single sex state primary schools nationally, five of which are conformist Jewish schools. 

    Rainham School for Girls Logo 

    The only reference to single sex education in the thin consultation document is the rather tentative one of: ‘We are keen to explore with stakeholders the concept of single sex primary provision, which we feel is an exciting prospect that will enable us to not only focus on the best learning strategies for girls, but will ensure that they have the chance to explore all aspects of learning, challenging stereotypes’.

    The document also offers little rationale for extending the age range.

    ‘The offer to extend our all-inclusive wrap around provision to Primary age children is an exciting one. The biggest impact of extending the school’s age range would be on a pupil’s learning journey.  The school’s ethos of high expectation and aspiration, in addition to having a common learning language from the age of 4 through to 18 will significantly increase a pupil’s progress path, leading to successful, well rounded young people’, which offers nothing to the over 80% of Year 7 girls who would be joining Rainham Girls from other schools.

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    Written on Sunday, 25 November 2018 06:02 7 comments Read 547 times
  • Exclusions Kent and Medway 2017-18

     Kent permanent exclusions have fallen by a remarkable 40% from last year to 49 pupils permanently excluded in 2017-18, in sharp contrast to nationally rising rates. No Kent school has more than five permanent exclusions. In 2011-12 there were an astonishing 210 Kent pupils permanently excluded more than any other Local Authority in the country, whereas now it is one of the very lowest. 

    Other Headlines:

    For 2016-17, even before this fall, Kent had the lowest rate of permanent exclusions in the South East. Kent fixed term exclusions have risen slightly to 10,698, an astonishing 11% or 1211 pupils of which are from one school, the secondary department of Folkestone Academy the rate of exclusion having shot up since 2016-17. Next comes Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academy with 786 exclusions. In 2016-17, the last year for which I have national comparisons, Kent fell below the national average for fixed term exclusions for the first time. 

    For Medway, one sixth of the size of Kent, the 2017-18 provisional number of permanently excluded pupil, is 58 (there may be additional exclusions to record),  down from the previous year’s final figure of 65. Five of Medway’s 18 secondary schools have more than five permanent exclusions, headed up by Brompton Academy with 11. I don’t yet have the Medway data for Fixed Term Exclusions.

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    Written on Friday, 02 November 2018 20:14 1 comment Read 434 times
  • Fixed Term Exclusions at Turner Schools 2017-18: Folkestone Academy and Martello Primary -An appalling double record

    Further Update: See new article here. 

    Updates: There is more information relating to Martello Primary, below. I have now published an article setting out  exclusion data across Kent for 2017-18, which serves as the basis for this item. 

    Folkestone Academy had more than one in every seven of all fixed term exclusions across Kent’s 101 secondary schools in 2017-18. That is just under one exclusion for every pupil in the school, and over twice as many as in 2016-17. This shocking and startling figure is just the latest in a number of revelations about happenings in the school revealed on this website. It closely follows the news that the school has dropped in GCSE performance this summer to become the fifth lowest performer in both Progress and Attainment. In 2016-17 it was  in the top half of non-selective schools in the county.

    Folkestone Academy 2

    Meanwhile, the new Martello Primary, taken on by Turner Schools in January 2017, has the second highest Fixed Term exclusion rate out of all of Kent's 463 primary schools with one exclusion for every four pupils. . 

    These fly in the face of statements by the school’s Chief Executive in the TES that: Saxton agrees with Lemov that a structured approach to behaviour is a way of reducing exclusions. She says that prior to joining Turner Schools, Folkestone Academy was the highest excluding school in Kent, but it is now reintegrating pupils into mainstream education.’  Whilst the claim itself was false then, it is certainly true now, the 1211 fixed term exclusions being more than double any other school in Kent (with the exception of Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey with 786). This equates to 85% of the statutory aged secondary school body, a dramatic rise from 2016-17, for most of the year under the previous management of 35%. 

    “Teacher capacity and skill is the best antidote there is to exclusion of students,” he (Professor Lemov) says. “The people who don’t work in high need communities often misunderstand that and think that order leads to suspensions and exclusions, but it’s the opposite. “Behaviours that lead to exclusions happen when students perceive there to be no limits and no expectations and no rules.”  So there you have it!

    It was 'education guru' Mr Lemov who, in a recent training session for the Turner Trust staff compared Folkestone with an ‘American Rust Belt City’, presumably in an attempt to explain the poor performances away.

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    Written on Saturday, 03 November 2018 11:21 3 comments Read 784 times