Supporting Families
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Welcome...

I began this website in 2006 both as a service to parents and to promote my business. I consider the educational system is often stacked against parents who have problems with individual schools or the education service and began my consultancy in 2003 to try and alleviate this somewhat in Kent and Medway.

Very soon I established that the need was far greater than I thought and my role (I do have a life outside education) became too full, to the extent that sadly, I have now had to retire completely from my individual consultancy advising families. Before I stepped back, I worked with around 1000 families on preparing appeals for all types of school, along with many others who faced different issues with schools or the education service, and each year carried out many telephone consultations, all contributing to my wide experience of matters educational in Kent and Medway.

Back to the website. This began life with a few short pages that I was able to edit and update simply, but as time has gone on, the range of issues and the amount of material covered have spiralled almost out of control. The site was relaunched in a professional format in January 2011, but content revision is ongoing, especially at the time of writing when I have spare capacity (coronavirus emergency). Please let me know where further revision is needed, together with any errors or omissions (especially faulty links!) and I will give that high priority in my work. As with all aspects of the website, I am happy to include links to non-commercial websites that support parents, and I am also happy to accept relevant advertisements.

I don’t have the capacity to share the material on this non-profit making website on social media, but am happy for it to be reproduced with acknowledgement, where you will often find it.

Peter J Read

B.Sc., M.Phil., M.A., Dip.Gen.

peter@kentadvice.co.uk

                                                 

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.

  • Swale Crisis in Non-Selective School Places

    There is an immediate crisis of accommodation in the three Sittingbourne non-selective (N/S) schools, which are overwhelmed with families trying to access them and avoid Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey. I gave a summary in my article on 2021 admissions to Kent N/S schools here, but now have further detail. For families, the chilling news is that by 2023, even when all of the vacant Oasis places are filled with Sittingbourne children, there won’t be enough Year Seven school spaces for local children across the area. KCC’s vague solution is to ‘continue to press for access to the North Sittingbourne (Quinton Road) development to establish a new 6FE secondary school to meet the future need from the population growth and new housing developments’, but with no sense of urgency nor sign of achieving anything.

    I am now told that KCC forgot to allocate some children with Education and Health Care Plans to Swale schools before allocations were made this year, which is the correct procedure, but instead gave them to the Sittingbourne schools afterwards. The result is that numbers became even more swollen, especially at Fulston Manor which received eleven extra pupils in this way. Unsurprisingly with these pressures, not one of the 68 appeals heard for a place at Fulston Manor was successful and, looking at the tremendously strong appeal defence for Westlands, I doubt if there will be much more success there, or indeed at The Sittingbourne School.

    The article concludes with a look at the delays in setting up England's first Secure School, to be run by Oasis in Rochester. 

    Written on Tuesday, 15 June 2021 06:05 Be the first to comment! Read more...
  • Simon Webb: Kent County Councillor

    Many in the education service will still remember Simon Webb, newly elected County Councillor for  Maidstone Rural West in the recent Council elections, from his previous roles working for the Council. He was Area Education Officer for North West Kent for 13 years, and then became Principal Primary Adviser for the Council in April 2013, having been, in the words to me of a senior Officer, 'moved to where he would do less harm'. In fact, his brief tenure of this post was even more controversial, only partly because of the way he publicly marched headteachers who he considered were underperforming, out of their schools into suspension or gardening leave, without notice. It was no surprise when he suddenly 'left' KCC service eighteen months later, taking up a temporary part-time role as Consultant to Jane Porter, Headteacher of Whitehill Primary School, having previously supported her at various schools with which she was involved. She installed him in an office in the school although staff were not clear of his purpose in being there, but she was later permanently banned from being a teacher because of professional misconduct. I was able to follow Mr Webb's later advisory roles in Suffolk and Essex before he became Chief Learning Officer at Connected Learning, a small primary school academy trust also in Essex on a salary of £95,000. He left this in January this year after just under four years in post.    

    Written on Tuesday, 08 June 2021 20:20 4 comments Read more...
  • Covid-19 and the Kent Grammar School Selection Process for 2022 Entry

    Last summer I wrote a series of articles warning that unless changes were made to the forthcoming Kent grammar school selection process, the pass rate amongst pupil premium children and those from ‘ordinary families’ would fall because of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on learning in primary schools. The Education Cabinet Member at the time claimed that Kent County Council would do all that was practical and possible to address all forms of disadvantage. This proved a completely empty promise, and nothing was done, apart from a delay in testing. 

    As a direct result of the failure to act, the proportion of children in receipt of Pupil Premium and those in East Kent who passed the Kent Test plummeted along with the proportion of Kent state school children taking the Test, boys in general underperformed, passes for children from private schools and out of county increased, and 13 East and Mid Kent grammar schools had empty places on allocation in March. You will find the evidence for all these facts traceable back from a previous article. Social mobility, one of the principles of the selective school system which is already damaged by tutoring and private cramming schools, will inevitably take another knock in next school year’s assessment process unless the Education Department changes its attitudes and approach to selection.  There are now a new Cabinet Member for Education and a new Director of Education in the county, so the opportunity is there for such a change, necessary if there is not to be further inequality entrenched, with this year's cohort suffering nearly two years of serious disruption in school and learning by the time of the Test in September/October. 

    To be precise, unless there are changes in the selective assessment procedure we shall see another and increasing betrayal of the more disadvantaged Kent children looking towards a grammar school place for the second year running, despite the valiant efforts of so many teachers to minimise that disadvantage. There is a brief note on the situation in Medway, below

    Written on Sunday, 06 June 2021 20:18 1 comment Read more...
  • Halling Primary School: The end of the Affair?

    The failure by the Cliffe Woods Academy Trust to even notice the meltdown at Halling Primary School in Medway after it appointed a totally unsuitable headteacher to the school, has resulted in the Trust being wound up. Its two schools are being absorbed into the Aletheia Anglican Academies Trust (AAAT), subject to consultation, which in my opinion is the best possible outcome for the children of the two schools.

    cliffe woods

     The Trust has sent a dishonest letter to parents presenting this as a wonderful opportunity, which it is, whilst completely ignoring the events of the past eighteen months that show it is incapable of operating in its present form and have forced it into this position.. Whilst I forecast the re-brokering of the school in my previous article, I neither anticipated the extent of the changes nor that AAAT, a Church of England Trust, would take on two secular schools in this way, although it does reflect government policy to bring Trusts together in larger groupings and is a warning to others to keep their house in order – Fairview Primary School and The Westbrook Trust take particular note of my final paragraph

     

    Written on Wednesday, 02 June 2021 06:47 2 comments Read more...
  • Appointment of New Headteacher at Fairview Primary School

    Update: A comment posted under a previous article claims the Vice-Chairman of Governors was not informed by his Chair of the shocking criticism of the governing body in notes of a meeting of staff convened by Medway Council, and dismissed them as either false or held by a small minority. 

    The Governors of Fairview Community Primary School, the third-largest primary school in Medway, have appointed Mrs Karin Tillett as headteacher after a highly controversial recruitment process, the background to which is explained in previous articles, most recently here and entitled: ‘How not to Appoint a Headteacher’. This includes a series of ever-changing arrangements for recruitment and for criteria laid down for the qualities of the new headteacher, as governors sought to narrow down the ‘really strong field of current headteachers with relevant experience, NPQH and CPD/research’.  In the event just two candidates were interviewed, one not fitting these criteria. 

    I have been commenting on education matters in Kent and Medway for over 15 years, but have never seen a rogue governing body like this before. In my opinion, it ignores the welfare of its pupils and staff in pursuit of a narrow agenda to join a small moderately performing academy trust although as a maintained school it is still accountable to Medway Council which doesn’t appear to care, perhaps because it just wants to see the back of the school. The Governing Body and Medway Council have chosen to ignore formal complaints about the headship appointment procedures and academisation

    I do not apologise for covering the events at Fairview in such detail; it is a unique and in my eyes gripping story of how an out of control governing body can behave, apparently with impunity, which has been avidly followed by a large number of readers of this site. 

    Written on Saturday, 29 May 2021 20:18 5 comments Read more...
  • Oversubscription and Vacancies in Kent Primary Schools: 2021

    There has been a fall of some 400 in the number of children offered places in Reception classes of the 438 Kent primary schools in April, since last year's allocations, reflecting a dip in the birth rate five years previously. 180 additional places have been added at new schools which joined the co-ordinated admission scheme this year. As a result of both of these factors, pressure on places has eased with 13% unfilled, up from 11% last year. Dartford town is the area with fewest vacancies in 2021, having just 3% of its spaces unfilled. It is followed by Sevenoaks town with 6%, then rural Canterbury, rural Gravesham, urban Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells with 7%.  Nine schools have 60% or more of their places empty, only one more than last year.

    Brent Outstanding 2021    Great Chart 2021

    The most oversubscribed schools are Brent in Dartford, and Great Chart in Ashford, with 76 and 65 disappointed first choices respectively, both schools being regularly towards the top of the table. These are followed by: Claremont, Tunbridge Wells (54); Gateway (42) & Our Ladies Catholic (41) both in Dartford; Chilton, Thanet (39); Allington, Maidstone (38), Bobbing Village, Swale (35); St John’s CofE, Maidstone & Holy Trinity & St John’s CofE, Thanet (both 33); and Sandgate, Folkestone (32).

    The number of children with no school of their choice has fallen to 398 from 457 last year. 199 children from outside Kent have been offered places in local schools, including 85 from Medway.

     I look more closely at each of these matters and across each District below, together with allocations to Junior Schools.

    Written on Monday, 24 May 2021 18:38 2 comments Read more...