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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, with other items in my Blog Page. The website contains over 800 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.  

Please note that with great regret I have now retired from my individual advisory service, as explained here.  I am currently updating the relevant pages. 

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 2020, this website had 163,740 certified visits, from 90,974 different users, including over 42,000 from Kent, who carried out 381,968 page views.
This was in addition to the 2253 email and RSS subscribers, nearly all of whom are based in England. These include parents, schools, education officers, politicians and the media who each received the 68 News and Comment articles published during the year. 
Most Popular Page: Kent Grammar School Applications - total views since first publication 374,859 including 22,509 in 2019.  

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. 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. News items appear as and when I have time in a very busy schedule, for I run this non profit making site single-handed.

  • Kent County Council Elections and Education

    One of Kent County Council’s major responsibilities is education, so I have surveyed the local political parties literature to find out their priorities before Thursday's Council election. Of particular interest to me are the catch-up arrangements for children disadvantaged by Covid, the failed Kent SEND department as described in the 2019 Ofsted Report, the shortage of non-selective places in various parts of the county, the flawed grammar school selection process penalising disadvantaged Kent children, and policy with regard to the fresh government academisation drive.

    The Conservatives, in their eight-page leaflet consider that: ‘When development does happen, our infrastructure first policy means that schools, GP surgeries, open spaces and transport links are planned before housing’. Otherwise silence, although I have tried several times without response for more information such as a manifesto. In other words, and sadly, Kent Conservatives do not appear to think education important enough to ask voters to pass an opinion on their past record, nor on any plans for the future.

    Written on Saturday, 01 May 2021 10:40 2 comments Read more...
  • Further Change at the Top in KCC Education

    The following article is based on a contribution from a serving Kent headteacher.

    Who’s the Boss? may have been a sitcom from the eighties but, at the moment, we could be forgiven for trying to work out what is happening within Kent Education Leadership. 

    Headteachers used to the nature and level of support provided by David Adams whilst he was AEO for the south of Kent were, on the whole I believe, pleased to see him take up the position of Interim Director of Education when Keith Abbott moved on. However, they now have to learn the ways of a permanent post holder in the form of Christine McInnes. Christine, formerly Tower Hamlets Director of Education and Partnerships, with a background in Special Education, formally introduced herself last week along with Mark Walker, ‘recently’ appointed Director of SEND in the first of their joint newsletters.

    Written on Wednesday, 28 April 2021 07:57 Be the first to comment! Read more...
  • Oversubscription and Vacancies Medway Non-Selective Schools September 2021

    Please Note: The front page of this website, at the time of publication of this article, contains the usual six articles but all about Medway matters. This is unique and purely a coincidence, with the large majority of items on subsequent pages relating to Kent schools and education issues, the county having six times the population of Medway. 

     The major news is that the new Leigh Academy Rainham (LAR) is opening in September offering 240 places, 60 more than the planned 180, whilst the second new non-selective (N/S) school coming on stream, the Maritime Academy to be based in Strood will, not open until at least 2022, several years behind schedule, see below.

    Leigh Academy Rainham 2

    As the new Rainham School is not in the Medway Co-ordinated Admissions scheme for its first year, many parents will have applied for and been allocated two schools, so there will be up to 240 vacancies appearing at the 17 existing schools for September, as parents release one of their offers. This is nearly 10% of the total, so that some schools, primarily the least popular and those in the east of Medway will see a large number of vacancies opening up. Add on to that, the 70 or so children likely to be successful at Medway grammar school appeals. What then happens next is what I call the ‘churning’ effect, where the more popular schools that lose pupils then fill up again from ones further down the line, probably working from east to west. It is therefore important that, if you haven't been offered your highest choice N/S school, you apply to go on the waiting list for this and any other schools higher on your preference list than the one you have been offered. Last year there were also 135 admission appeals heard at five Medway non-selective schools, 53 of those being successful, taking pupils from less popular schools

     I understand that Medway Council, which is also handling the process for LAR, has required parents to accept just one offer and is writing to those with two to require them to relinquish one. I believe the current table of offers below, although some way from the final outcome, still gives a reasonable guide to outcomes, identifying the schools at both ends of the range.

     I also look below at a range of other matters that have a bearing on the take-up of places, including ooc offers, appeals, fair banding, and concluding with a look at the outcomes for each individual school.

    Written on Thursday, 22 April 2021 10:34 Be the first to comment! Read more...
  • Oversubscription & Vacancies in Medway Grammar Schools for September 2021

    The pattern of offers at Medway grammar schools for entry in September closely follows that for September 2020, which I looked at previously here. All schools apart from Chatham have filled. The main changes in popularity are the significant falls in first choices at Chatham, Holcombe and Rochester (all regularly featured in news items on this site). Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School (The Math) continues to be by far the most oversubscribed grammar school, turning away 108 first choices. There were also reductions in girls’ places at Rochester Grammar, which took some £3 million pounds from the Government Expansion Fund in 2018, to create additional places in exchange for a greater priority for children attracting Pupil Premium, and Chatham Grammar.

    SJWMS1

    By coincidence, the number of Medway children found selective after the Medway selection process for entry to grammar school in 2021 was almost identical to that for the previous year with 386 boys (385 in 2019) and 438 girls in both years found suitable for grammar school.  This continues the annual bias towards girls being found selective. In total there are 505 places for girls but only 355 for boys available this year in the five single-sex Medway grammar schools, as well as 235 at the co-educational Rainham Mark Grammar. There are places for every local Medway grammar qualified pupil but, as in previous years, chances at appeal for local boys in any school are likely to be very low. 210 children living outside Medway have been offered local grammar school places out of 1045 in total. This amounts to 20%, a fifth of all the places offered, see below.

    Written on Tuesday, 20 April 2021 18:28 Be the first to comment! Read more...
  • Halling Primary School: Latest Developments (Part Two)

    Update, 19th April: Welcome news: It appears that Mrs Woolmer,  the much-loved Head of Reception at Halling who left the school at the end of last term, has been persuaded to return by the new management. This morning, the first day of term, she opened the school gate for children. What an important signal that things are changing for the better. 

    I begin with an apology to all those followers who have no special interest in Medway primary schools, although my recent articles about Fairview and Halling both have considerably wider implications than for the two schools themselves. At Fairview, as far I can establish, this is the first time that a Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) has rejected an application for academy status anywhere in the country in recent years. It now looks increasingly likely that this decision was primarily because the RSC recognised a rogue Governing Body, as explained here.

    Halling

    However, this article is about the second school, Halling Primary, part of the Cliffe Woods Academy Trust. After the RSC had arranged for an investigation into the running of the school at the request of the Trust, this took place in the last week of the Easter Term and, on Friday last, parents were sent a joint letter from the Chairs of the Cliffe Woods Trust and of the Halling Governing Body. This letter informed them that the headteacher of the school ‘has taken some time away from school for personal reasons’, and the responsibilities residing with the headteacher position will be shared, at least through Term Five, by two other primary school headteachers.

    I have documented the issues through three previous articles, most recently here, and so this article unpicks some of the content of the letter. It is unlikely we will be told the precise reasons for Miss Selmi’s absence from the school, although we know it will be for at least the next term.

    Written on Sunday, 18 April 2021 16:59 11 comments Read more...
  • The Disgraceful Behaviour of the Governors of Fairview Primary School (Part Two)

     I have been given correspondence through an FOI request to Medway Council that shreds the competence and integrity of the Governing Body (GB) of Fairview Community Primary School. It shows that this would have been the central problem with the Fairview application to become an academy, as part of the Westbrook Trust, last year.

    This is best illustrated by the report of a School Challenge and Improvement Visit in March 2020, conducted by a Medway Council officer, although the issues recur in various emails. You will find the full report here, with a major excerpt below but, in summary, a meeting with 17 members of staff raised multiple issues about relationships between them and governors. These demonstrated that the GB was failing them, the school and the local community on all counts.

    Other correspondence covers matters such as conflicts of interest, failure to follow procedures to the extent that the Chairman was wrongly elected at a meeting that was improperly convened, and evidence of members of the GB trying to force the school to join the Westbrook Trust, all with an evident complete lack of interest in the views of staff and the local community. I have never before come across such a siege mentality, arrogance and level of incompetence as in the Fairview governing body. The continued failure to communicate with parents as promised emphasises this failure.  

    Remarkably, the school appears to continue to operate successfully and smoothly, run by its three leaders from the Compass Partnership of Schools, independently of the Governing Body, although all three are scheduled to leave in the summer when the Compass contract expires. 

    Written on Friday, 16 April 2021 07:14 5 comments Read more...