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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 Primary Schools inspected by OFSTED since September have again produced excellent outcomes overall, way above the national figures. There are two new Outstanding schools, both having followed the same route. These are Chilton Primary, in Ramsgate and St Eanswythe’s CofE in Folkestone. Both schools converted to become academies following a ‘Good’ Ofsted, then having a Short Inspection which recommended a re-visit for a full Inspection, that found them Outstanding, as explained below.

Chilton                                                         St Eanswythes

 

Another 86% of the 47 Kent schools inspected were found to be ‘Good’, up on the 2018 data at this stage. At the other end, two schools were placed in Special Measures.

Medway, for the first time in many years, has an improving set of inspection outcomes, with four of its 15 schools improving their assessment, a total of 13 or 87% being found to be ‘Good’, primarily due to a policy of academising all its primary schools, Removing them from being its responsibility. 

Further details for both Kent and Medway primary schools below.


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I regret to announce that I am retiring from my personal advisory service for parents, over the past two years mainly conducted by telephone consultation. I am also no longer able to respond to individual enquiries.  I shall continue to operate the highly popular KentAdvice website with its unique mixture of information, advice, news and comment on education matters across Kent and Medway, although it remains primarily self-funded apart from a small income from advertisers (more are always welcome). This has always been driven by information from parents and professionals, to whom I am very grateful, and I hope that this practice will continue.  

The advisory service has operated in several forms since 2005, but throughout I have offered predominantly free advice to many enquirers on an individual basis. Whilst my main area of activity has inevitably been with school admissions and appeals, it has also covered such matters as special education needs, exclusions, and complaints, together with specific failures of schools and Local Authorities to offer an appropriate service or education to parents. The service has been based on my recognised and unparalleled independent experience of education matters in Kent and Medway.


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Medway Council has voted to support a bid for a new grammar school or satellite grammar in the Authority, apparently oblivious of the current data on grammar school places, with a large surplus in girls school places, due to get even larger next year when Rochester Grammar abandons its super selective status to give priority to local girls. Whilst the two boys schools are both full on allocation this year, this is achieved because of 82 offers to boys from outside Medway at the two schools, 48 from London. As my article on Medway grammar school allocations this year confirms, 23% or nearly a quarter of all grammar school places, went to children from outside Medway.  

I give below the full picture of allocations for Medway grammar schools in September 2019, which should surely have been placed in front of councillors to enable them to reach a rational decision! Unfortunately, the decision shows the Councillors could not have been aware of the facts. Yet another example of what I have previously called Medway Madness.

Unsurprisingly as I forecast elsewhere, I am hearing of children of families moving into Medway who are being penalised by the unlawful decision of Medway Council not to test them for grammar school entrance, as in my previous article. Another Medway grammar school issue has now been brought to my attention in that a number of boys and girls were offered places at Chatham Girls and Rochester, but who were not grammar qualified  have now had those places withdrawn. I look at this further below.

Does no one on the Council care about education????


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Update: Now with news of record outcome for Medway Reception Year Allocations (5 p.m. Tuesday)

Good news for most Kent families applying for reception class places in primary schools as the outcome figures are very close to the record 2018 placements. 89.4% of families have been offered their first choice school, against 89.5% in 2018. The total number of allocations to Kent pupils is up by 53 to 17,286, whilst the number of children with no school of their choice is up by 57 to 2.6%.

For Medway, the very brief press release is identical to that of 2018, except for four numbers, just three of which are relevant, quoted below. A great pity, as with a little bit of effort the Council could have been proud of its delivery of a record proportion of pupils being offered one of the schools on their application form, at more than 85%. 

I am waiting for detailed oversubscription and vacancy figures at both Reception and Junior School level to be sent, both for Kent and Medway and will publish these as soon as possible, probably into May. You may find the equivalent picture for 2018 allocations helpful, as it conducts a detailed survey of the issues in each of Kent's 16 Districts (my  definition, more local than the official 12!).

You will find advice below on what to do if you have not received a school of your choice, together with a breakdown of offers for both Kent and Medway over the past four years. 

You will also find information and advice on appeals below and  here. In summary, if your school is one of the overwhelming majority where Infant Class Legislation applies, chances are negligible. 


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Wednesday, 10 April 2019 12:52

Medway Non-Selective Schools Allocation 2019

Pressure on places in Medway Non-Selective schools continues to be intense, with 80% of pupils being awarded their first choice school. Another 204 children, or 9.3% of the total, received no school of their choice, well up on last year's 136. The situation was exacerbated by a fall of 35 in the number of places available. As a result, there were only 34 vacancies in three schools, just 1.4% of the total. The most oversubscribed school is Brompton Academy, as it has been for many years, turning away 218 first choices.

Brompton Academy

It is followed by Thomas Aveling with 72 children rejected. Some places will be freed up and re-allocated by successful grammar school appeals, but there are unlikely to be many successful appeals at Brompton, with just five appeals upheld out of 65 in 2018, in a typical year. You will find the full table of appeal outcomes below.

Probably the biggest Medway story is that of St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive, whose popularity has declined every year since 2014, with just 46 children placing it first choice, with 101 being allocated there by Medway Council, having been offered no school of their choice, presumably few if any having a Catholic background. Its very Catholic ethos proves very difficult for many of those without a Catholic faith to cope with.

Overall, as in Kent, there is considerable polarisation with each of the oversubscribed schools becoming more popular this year, hence the soaring number of Local Authority Allocations (LAAs).


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Index

All Medway boys and girls who are grammar qualified will have been offered a place at Chatham Girls or Holcombe if they did not get one elsewhere and applied to one of these two. An example of  what I am coming to regard as 'Medway Madness' which affects both the Local Authority and some local schools, the Council has unlawfully deprived late applicants including those moving into Medway of their right to be considered at a grammar school, as explained here. This follows the complete breakdown of the Medway Review process, with just 4 Medway pupils having a Review upheld, out of 159. 

Only one grammar school, Chatham Girls, had vacancies. 242 out of Medway candidates have been offered places out of 1042 in total. This amounts to 23%, or nearly a quarter of all the places offered, and is well up on 2018's 185 offers to children from outside Medway. 

An additional 68 new places have been created, 38 at Chatham Girls and 30 at Fort Pitt, although The Rochester Grammar School took away the 30 extra places it has offered for the past two years, probably for reasons outlined below. 

Rochester Grammar      SJWMS1

The Rochester Grammar School was by a long way the most oversubscribed grammar in Medway, turning away 121 grammar school qualified first choices, as a result of seeing its pass mark to soar to its highest ever, the year before it scraps super selection completely.  It is followed by Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School (The Math) with 70 first choice boys turned away.  

I look in more detail at the outcomes, including the situation for each grammar school individually, below.


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Index

You will find the parallel article looking at Kent Non-selective schools here. Medway Schools to follow. Please note that the two articles on secondary school allocation in Kent had over 27,000 hits last year, being the two longest and most popular I publish. If there are corrections to be made, or you would like any section expanded or clarified, please let me know. 

The number of Kent grammar school places available for Year 7 pupils has risen by just 20 overall since last year, to 5469, with a total increase of 535 over the past five years.  The biggest change is an increase of 30 places at Simon Langton Boys to 150, although its popularity has dropped sharply. There are currently 217 empty spaces for September (up from 184 in 2018), in ten grammar schools including three of the four Maidstone grammars.

(Most figures in this paragraph are approximate, see below): 417 of the 5252 Kent grammar school places offered, or 8% (down from 9% in 2018) of the total, went to pupils from outside of the county (ooc), with  223 pupils going to out of county grammars, mainly in Medway. 147 pupils coming in were offered places at the two Dartford Grammar schools. As a result, the pressure on places at these two schools continues to rise inexorably along with the two Wilmington grammars, led by Dartford Grammar School with a record 476 grammar qualified first choices for its 180 places, up from 460 in 2018.  The next most popular schools were unsurprisingly Dartford Girls, The Judd School, and Tonbridge Grammar.

dgs        dggs 2

As far as I am aware there is just one black spot for grammar school applications, North West Kent, especially around Swanscombe and Greenhithe, where a number of grammar qualified children have been offered no grammar school place, although most applied for two or three of the local schools.

I look at the outcomes below in more detail, including levels of oversubscription and vacancies together with a look at each school individually. I have also included a new measure which is the change in popularity, throwing up some interesting trends.


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Please see Important Update Below

The Guardian Newspaper has today (03/04/19) published a news item about a girl with mental health problems who was placed in an Isolation Room, on a repeated basis when she ‘failed’ to comply, reaching the stage where she developed depression and attempted suicide.

Prior to the intervention of lawyers in mid-March, she had spent every day since mid-January in isolation, meaning she had to remain silent throughout the day and had no directed teaching.

 Although the school is not identified by name it is described as a school in Kent.

I am delighted that someone has at long last taken legal action to try and stop such practices for I have written about them regularly, describing such punishment as 'child abuse'. 


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