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Displaying items by tag: Ombudsman

Judd School Appeals have taken place this week, with Skinners at the end of the month.  This is for entry in September 2012.

But................

Published in Peter's Blog
Thursday, 29 December 2011 18:11

The Skinners School - a remarkable stand off

Following further problems at The Skinners School's admission appeals last summer for entry in Year Seven September 2011, as the Ombudsman has once again become involved and currently the Governors of the school are refusing to accept his recommendation. I initially commented on these appeals earlier in the year.  This is not the first time the Ombudsman has been involved with the Skinners School and he published a critical Report on the appeal proceedings in 2007, reporting on serious maladministration by the Governors of the school. In 2008, there were two successful complaints about the Governing Body and/or the Appeal Panel, in 2009 there were 4, and in 2010 there was one. Appeal Panels are organised by the Governing Body itself, which has strong representation from the Skinners Company of London. No other Kent or Medway School has had successful complaints upheld in more than two of these four years, the vast majority having none at all. You will find numbers of all successful complaints against Foundation or Voluntary Aided Schools here

However, ...........

Published in News Archive

That's right! I have won two thirds of all successful complaints about maladministration of admission appeal panels for academies  settled by 31st August! To be fair that is two complaints won on behalf of clients out of a total of three upheld across the country (actually they are all for Kent schools). The Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA) resolves complaints on behalf of the  Department of Education, replacing the process operated for maintained school Appeal Panels by the Local Government Ombudsman..........

Published in News Archive
Tagged under

The Local Government Ombudsman has today (July 6th) published a highly critical report on the Independent Appeal Panel for Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Girls for entry last September (2010). Whilst no fault was found with the school's actions (apart from engaging a Kent County Council Panel), KCC itself comes in for heavy criticism on a variety of fronts:........

Published in News Archive

Regular browsers of this website will be be well aware of my concerns about the accountability of academies. I have just posted my initial advice and views on complaints about Independent Panels set up by academies to hear admission appeals. Sadly, I am very disappointed.......

Published in News Archive
Thursday, 02 June 2011 00:00

Complaints about Academies

The following table gives a breakdown of the data for complaints to the EFA about Academy and Free School Appeals for the past two years, 2015-2017. You will find an article expanding on these figures here.   

Complaints to the EFA about Academy
and Free School Appeals
  National  Kent Medway
   15-16 16-17 15-16 16-17  15-16  16-17
 Total
Complaints
 227  234  25  21  3 4
 Possible
Injustice
 14  6  o  o  0  0
Maladministration
without Injustice
 21  15  0  1  1  0
No
Maladministration
 133  164

 25

 18  2

3

Decision
Outstanding
 0  33   0  2  0  1

You can see that success rates have halved since my previous data collection in 2011, below. 

A. Maladministration that the YPLA considers may have caused injustice.  Where this is the decision a fresh appeal is required to be heard by a different panel.

B. Maladministration that the YPLA does not consider to have caused injustice.  Where this is the decision no fresh appeal is required

C. No maladministration.

OUTCOMES OF COMPLAINTS ABOUT ADMISSION APPEAL PANEL ADMINISTRATION MADE TO YPLA BEFORE 30 SEPTEMBER 2011

Total received

Decision Pending / Awaiting Further Info from parent or Clerk A* B* C* Parent Withdrew Complaint
National 107 16 7 3 78 3
Kent County Council Area 18 0 4 1 13 0
Medway Council Area 0 - - - - -

* Letters refer to decisions in previous paragraph.

Compared to Ombudsman decisions, there is a remarkably low proportion of successful complaints settled so far. Of course it may be that those where decisions are pending include a higher proportion of cases which may be settled in favour of the complainant.

By comparison, for 2010 entry, the Local Government Ombudsman heard 1403 school admission complaints nationally, fairly similar proportionately, given the number of schools involved. For Kent in 2010, there were 35 complaints to the Ombudsman about school admissions for county/community schools although the outcomes are not recorded. Kent foundation and voluntary aided schools produced 77 complaints of which 30 were the subject of local settlements (this means in general that the complaints were upheld with a fresh appeal or a recommendation to admit directly to the school), and in Medway, 6 out of 18 were upheld.

There thus appears to be a dramatic fall in the chances of success for complaints about academies, three possible reasons being as follows. Firstly, those still pending may produce a higher proportion of success, as they may be the subject of further investigation, but this would still leave the chances of success much lower. Secondly, the process of determining outcomes has significant differences. Normally in Ombudsman cases, there is discussion of the issues arising between the parties so that all have a chance to comment on the other's case. The complainant usually sees the appeal clerk's notes and the admission authority's comments on the case. he is then able to challenge any wrong information put forward. The Ombudsman issues a provisional view which either side can challenge and put forward further information. On the other hand, with the EFA, the academy gets to see the complaint, but the parent does not see their response - this is clearly unfair! There may be limited informal discussion, but the first real indication one has of the  outcome is the final decision. Thirdly, the Ombudsman website is packed with information and advice on complaints, backed up by a telephone support line. There is no such help available for complaints to the YPLA.  There is solely information on the address to send a complaint to. One of the massive frustrations reported by schools and parents alike, is the difficulty in contacting real people - telephone numbers all too often lead to message boards where no one answers!

I am happy to be corrected on any of the above views or information.

The Medway Tests for Entrance to Grammar School in September 2011 had problems in two Test Centres this year. Children from a number of primary schools who sat the test at Chatham Grammar School for Boys had their test papers collected in early and then they were given out again, causing disruption, and children at the other centre were the victims of disruptive behaviour by some of the candidates. My advice was to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman and he has recently concluded his investigation....

Published in News Archive
Friday, 10 December 2010 00:00

Ombudsman Reports and Statistics

You will find a more detailed article relating to 2016-17 decisions here. There has been a considerable fall in the number of Ombudsman complaints relating to school admissions. This is because most complaints in Kent and Medway are about grammar school appeals, and the large majority of grammars have now converted to become academies. Academy complaints are considered by the Education Funding Agency. As a result, the historical pattern has become irrelevant and I have deleted it.  

 

Kent and Medway Ombudsman
Complaints regarding Education 2016-17
 Number Closed  Upheld  Injustice
Kent
Admissions  22  21  1  0

Exclusions

 0  0  0  0
 Transport  4  2  2   2 
Special Needs  9  2  7  4
Medway 
Admissions  1  0  0  0
Exclusions
 0  0  0  0
Transport  1  0  0  0
Special Needs  1  0  1  0
 
 
Kent and Medway Ombudsman
Complaints regarding Education 2015-16
 Number Closed  Upheld  Injustice
Kent
Admissions 21 20 1 0

Exclusions

0 0 0 0
 Transport 5 5 0 0
Special Needs 7 5 2 1
Medway
Admissions  3  2  1 1
Exclusions
 0  0  0  0
Transport  2  0  0  0
Special Needs  2  0 2  2

 

Tagged under
Friday, 10 December 2010 19:39

Ombudsman (2)

Letter in East Kent Gazette: “We were thrown a lifeline when someone gave us the details of Peter Read, an Independent Education adviser from Gravesend. I would like you readers to know just what a saviour he was to us”. (Successful ombudsman complaint).
Published in Quotes
Tagged under
Friday, 10 December 2010 19:38

Ombudsman

"What can I say; thank you seems wholly inadequate? Your advice and wisdom proved invaluable to us and when we despaired of ever achieving a positive outcome there you were gently guiding us with logic, a level head and endless amounts of patience. Your knowledge of the Ombudsman and educational system was paramount in securing a place for our daughter and it was this knowledge that turned a maybe into a successful definitely"
Published in Quotes
Tagged under
Page 1 of 2

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 and Medway School Transport in September

    I am discussing this on Radio Kent Wednesday 8.15 a.m., possibly later. 

    Considerably updated 11th August - and probably more to come in a fast-changing situation. 

    Government Policy
    'It is our plan that all pupils, in all year groups, will return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term'.

    Government Advice
    'We expect that public transport capacity will continue to be constrained in the autumn term. Its use by pupils, particularly in peak times, should be kept to an absolute minimum'. 
    ' I am asking every staff member and student to plan now how they will get to school or college. If it is possible to walk or cycle, please do' (Secretary of State for Education)

    I wholeheartedly support the government policy principle of encouraging all pupils to return to school in September, and those schools are working incredibly hard to deliver it. However, one of the many intractable Covid-19 related challenges facing some secondary schools and families when re-opening in September is that of pupil transport. Many Kent schools are especially vulnerable, for the county is rural in places with pupils having to travel long distances to their nearest school, and faith and grammar schools will also have pupils who travel considerable distance by public transport. Most readers will have seen or encountered the publicly accessible double-decker buses packed with pupils on their way to and from school in the past, but this won’t be the situation in September. For social distancing rules reduce the number of passengers on each bus by up to two thirds and there is not the spare capacity at peak school times to increase bus numbers to compensate.

    We are now less than four weeks away from the start of term and there is no sign of a solution to the transport difficulties, although the government has recently released two documents covering the challenges. KCC considers that: ‘the financial impact on bus services and operators has been significant so it could be that more services than usual are subject to change or cancellation. In addition, at the moment, operators are only able to let about half of the usual numbers of passengers on their buses and if this remains the case, then providing enough space for all passengers could (!) be a problem, and so students that can travel in a different way should do so at the moment’. This will inevitably have major knock-on effects, with a sharp increase in private traffic on the roads at key times.

    There is no doubt that unless there are considerable improvements to what is currently on offer, too many pupils will regularly miss large parts of the school day, with some not being able to make school at all. 

    Written on Friday, 07 August 2020 19:47 3 comments Read more...
  • Comprehensive Future Knowingly Re-Publishes False Data about Grammar Schools and Pupil Premium

    Two years ago, Comprehensive Future published as a fact that: When asked how many pupils were admitted through these priority policies 80 schools responded, revealing that just 574 disadvantaged pupils were offered admission out of their 12,431 available places... there were 22 selective schools who responded to say they had failed to admit a single disadvantaged pupil through their policies’.  This claim was picked up by the media including the BBC. Unfortunately, this is twice completely false, as I demonstrated in an article last month after the organisation publicly attacked me for querying the data, repeating it in the process. False firstly, because the organisation had quoted completely the wrong data column from their own database, and secondly because the whole database is self-evidently rubbish, see below. As I wrote then, a prime example of the ICT mantra Garbage in, garbage out.  

    I have now been informed by CF’s Chairman, Nuala Burgess, that CF is not prepared to discuss the matter further, the bogus claims remain on their website and that of the BBC and so this must cast doubt on any other claims made by CF on data they have harvested to forward their aims.

    Written on Thursday, 06 August 2020 15:25 4 comments Read more...
  • The Kent Test 2020: Throwing down the gauntlet

    I had an extended interview on Radio Kent last week about the unfairness created towards ‘children of ordinary families’ in the Kent Test for this extraordinary year. At the conclusion, Julia George who was interviewing asked me to ‘throw down the gauntlet’ with KCC over my deep concerns, repeated several times over recent months. I did this by simply challenging the Council to respond to the recently published Government Guidance to Admission Authorities, Kent County Council being one of the largest in the country. KCC’s response to the BBC over the challenge wrongly dismisses the guidance because it ‘will cover individual schools and consortia which test far fewer children’. More importantly, it completely ignores the main part of the guidance and my concern, which focused on the unfairness created for lower-income families in Kent, as explained below.

    At about the same time, Matt Dunkley, Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education at KCC replied to a letter from Adam Holloway, MP for Gravesham, which echoed my concerns. This response covers somewhat different territory, but again completely ignores any strategy for promoting fairness for disadvantaged families as laid down by the government advice. Moreover, he dismissed my idea for creating flexibility in these increasingly uncertain times and of supporting ordinary families, or any alternative, having set up a false description of it to dismantle!

    Written on Wednesday, 05 August 2020 10:35 Be the first to comment! Read more...
  • The Struggling Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey Appoints its Fourth Leader in Seven Years.

    Oasis Academy Trust is trying once again to reverse the inexorable decline in the fortunes of Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey (OAIOS) by bringing in a new Executive Principal over the head of Tina Lee, the current Principal.

    Oasis Sheppey

    Ian Simpson, currently Principal of Oasis Academy Lister Park in Bradford, makes the eighth leader since the school became an academy in 2009. Most of his predecessors have been moved on after failing to turn the school round. Both of the previous two post holders were appointed from within the school only after the Trust failed to attract anyone from outside, despite extensive advertising. Both have been a disappointment. It is not clear if the role of Executive Head is permanent or just a short term firefighting job.

    All this is taking place in the context of a forecast crisis in the provision of non-selective places in Sittingbourne and Sheppey, which will come to a head in 2021, if it has not already arrived. 

    Written on Friday, 31 July 2020 06:45 Be the first to comment! Read more...
  • Government 'Expectation' on Managing Selection Test Arrangements in Kent and Medway

    Hot on the heels of Kent County Council's confirmed arrangements for the Kent Test, as reported in my previous article, the government has now released its formal advice on assessment processes for selective school admissions. This is quoted extensively below in blue and italics. It greatly expands the frameworks set out by KCC and Medway Councils, urging admission authorities to look closely at minimising disadvantage for protected groups, socially and economically disadvantaged children and children who are unable to attend the test centre, as I had hoped KCC itself would. The current KCC proposal heavily discriminates against lower-income families who can't afford private education or extensive private tutoring.  It remains my conviction that, if KCC were to adopt a model such as the one I have proposed before, it would go a considerable way towards meeting the requirement to minimise this acknowledged disadvantage in the current circumstances which has not yet been addressed. However, there is still the flexibility to do so. Medway Council has a more structured procedure for assessing children, but no apparent will to change it as this document advises, so I have little hope that greater fairness will emerge there.  

    Several pieces of government advice, considered further below, relate to the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers which is likely to be magnified by their absence from school during the coronavirus outbreak’. In particular, ‘we therefore strongly advise that tests for grammar and partially selective schools are moved back into late October or to November if local admission co-ordination processes allow’. Along with the other recommendations below which now need addressing, this is considerably more radical than the KCC and Medway decisions which place the revised test dates in the first half of October and offer no further mitigation of disadvantage. 

    The immense logistical problems faced by KCC and, to a lesser extent by Medway Council, in providing facilities to test some 5,000 out of county candidates are also explored further below.

    Written on Saturday, 25 July 2020 11:59 3 comments Read more...
  • Education, Health and Care Plans in Kent

    Update: You will find an article exploring the government's announcement of 35 new Free Specia Schools to be set up here

    Further Update: KCC and government have announced the opening of a new secondary special school on the Isle of Sheppey for September 2022. 

    This article looks back at provision for children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) for the year 2018-19 across Kent, success rates for those appealing against decisions, along with other related matters. The data shows a sharp rise of 80% in EHCPs awarded in under three years, with a corresponding increase in budget putting enormous pressure on KCC education finances.

    The data below shows that for nearly half of families requesting a statutory assessment of SEN this is not followed through for some reason, often lack of support from the school which may be for good reason. However, for most who get that far, the overwhelming majority were awarded an EHCP, so it is worthwhile persevering. I imagine that the difficulties of securing an EHCP over the past six months have been immense.  Those unsuccessful in securing an EHCP or one that is adequate for the purpose have the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, although large numbers starting down this route did not follow through, often where KCC decided their cases were not worth defending and concede the EHCP, as suggested by the data.

    The article also looks at placements of children with EHCPs, with 40% of primary and 30% of secondary pupils remaining in mainstream schools, along with the number of children being with EHCPs being de-registered from school for Elective Home Education, together with a brief look at the powerful performance of Medway Special SchoolsI also look back at a damning Inspection of Kent’s ineffectiveness in implementing the disability and special educational needs reforms as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 which took place in the middle of this period; consider the current situation and the financial pressures imposed by the increase in EHCPs; and the number of families taking up places in private schools, funded by KCC often after Tribunal. These include one which charges more than twice as much as Eton College. 

    Written on Friday, 24 July 2020 15:54 1 comment Read more...