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Displaying items by tag: Tonbridge

This newspaper article is an expanded version of a news item elsewhere on this website, looking at the pressure on primary school places in Kent.

There has been much comment in the national media on the growing shortage of primary school places and Kent is no exception. I am now receiving concerned enquiries almost daily from families who have moved into or are planning to move into the area and are finding no suitable school, or in some cases no school at all being offered. Others have been allocated schools they didn’t apply to and are now finding out the reasons for the lack of popularity of some of these. Key pressure areas include: Sevenoaks, Gravesham, Dartford, Tunbridge Wells, Thanet, Maidstone and Tonbridge in Kent; and much of Medway, especially Chatham, Rainham and Rochester. 

 The problems of what are called In Year transfers are exemplified by an email circulated to primary school headteachers in Gravesham at the beginning of September by the Local Authority desperately seeking places for 23 children in the Borough (9 in Dartford) in Years 1,2 and 3 without a place........

Published in Newspaper Articles

 

The Judd School in Tonbridge (grammar) has outlined the likely prospect of a Judd Entry Test for entry from September 2015, completely breaking away from the Kent 11 plus. The two Folkestone grammar schools have already introduced their own alternative to the Kent 11 plus to be taken this autumn and in following years. Both developments are described below........

Published in News Archive

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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 Councils and Free School Meals

    KCC has just released the excellent news that the families of all Kent children on Free School Meals will receive £15 of vouchers per child during school holidays. You will find a copy of the Media Release below.

    Thanks to an initiative by Medway Council and Citizens Advice Medway,  free school meal children will be supplied with meals over the half-term holidays

    KCC has 65 Conservative Councillors out of a total of 81, so one might expect it to follow government policy which appears to be to resist pressure to follow the Marcus Rashford route.  However, the announcement comes after KCC Leader Roger Gough pledged that 'no child should ever go hungry during school holidays, or at any time'. Regular browsers of this site will know that I have been highly critical of KCC recently over policy aspects in the coronavirus pandemic, but I am delighted to welcome this decision for the sake of our disadvantaged children. The Conservative majority in the House of Commons voted against extending free school meals for pupils over the school holidays, up to Easter 2021. This included 14 Kent Conservative MPs, apart from Sir Roger Gale, who have a different view to KCC. The only Kent MP who voted in favour was Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield (Lab). 

    Medway Council has 32 Conservative Councillors out of 55, so again could have been tempted by government policy. Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: 'We are committed to supporting Medway’s most vulnerable children, especially during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which has caused further financial pressures for some families. We are therefore pleased to be working with Citizens Advice Medway to ensure no child goes hungry this half-term'.  Two of the three Medway Conservative MPs voted against the proposal, including Kelly Tolhurst who was previously an Education Cabinet Member for Medway Council. 

    There are certainly arguments for and against the policy, but the government decision not to support it is clearly against the popular and growing mood, with an increasing number of Local Authorities adding to the pressure. 

    This must be the most impressive goal scored by an England footballer ever, and an example to others.

    Written on Monday, 26 October 2020 16:42 1 comment Read more...
  • Changes in the Secondary Admission Application Procedures: Kent and Medway

    The Kent Test was delayed for a month this year because of the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, as explained here. Along with this change, Kent County Council increased the number of choices on the secondary school application form from four to six, to cater for families not knowing the test result before the closing date. KCC has also made another unpublicised change to its secondary school admission rules for September 2021. The new arrangement is as follows.

    The closing date for applications is Monday 2nd November. This is a deadline that is set in legislation, however KCC allows parents to make changes to their application up until Friday 11th December. That means even with Kent Test results being available later this year parents still have the opportunity to change their preferences. 

    In previous years, this option was only allowable in exceptional circumstances such as house moves. KCC has now removed these conditions and made it a positive opportunity for all, so there appears no restriction on parents making any late change for 2021 entry. However, I can’t at present envisage situations where any sensible ordering of the six choices of school available in this very different year would need to be revised after the results of the Kent Test, due out on 26th November, are known. Decisions to make changes to the preference scheme should not be taken lightly as removing a school from your list also removes the right to appeal later for a place at that school. 

    Meanwhile, in Medway where the Test and Review outcomes will also be known by 26th November, the Council has simply put back the closing date for submitting all applications to 1st December. This gives relevant Medway residents a clear advantage as they will know the results of both Medway and Kent Tests before needing to submit their applications.  

    Written on Friday, 23 October 2020 08:25 2 comments Read more...
  • Exclusions in Kent Schools, 2019-20: Astonishment and Predictability.
    The astonishment features two Kent secondary schools, Hartsdown and Folkestone Academies, who have been at the top of the fixed term exclusion lists over the previous four years. Hartsdown has seen its number of exclusions fall from last year’s 459 and second-highest proportion in the county to just ONE, whilst Folkestone Academy fell from 538 to 128. Meanwhile, Astor College, John Wallis Academy,  Oasis Academy, and High Weald Academy, four of the top five excluding schools last year, yet again head the table, along with Charles Dickens School. These five schools are all well ahead of all other Kent schools in excluding, and each regularly features in this table, suggesting they have particular issues with discipline. Three primary schools had more exclusions than 10% of their roll. I look at each of these eight schools individually, below.

    Unsurprisingly, the total number of secondary school fixed-term exclusions for 2019-20 has fallen from the previous year’s record 8816, partly because they have only been open for around two-thirds of the year because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, this year's total of 4778 is much lower proportionally, so this is a genuine fall with Folkestone and Hartsdown accounting for nearly a quarter of the difference between them.

    Permanent exclusions continue at a very low level compared with national data, there being 12 from primary schools, 11 from secondary schools and one from a Special School in the same period of 2019-20.

    Written on Thursday, 15 October 2020 10:43 Be the first to comment! Read more...
  • Ofsted Inspections Taking Place in Kent Primary Schools on Kent Test Day today.

    Back in the summer Amanda Spielman, the Chief Inspector of Schools, informed schools that Ofsted would carry out visits through the Autumn Term ‘to get some insight on how schools and other providers are bringing children back into formal education after such a long time away’.  She made clear explicitly that these visits were not inspections. Subsequently, following a challenge from the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) on the threat of legal action, NAHT reported that “While Ofsted has sought to play down the nature of these visits publicly, this statement makes it clear that they are indeed a form of inspection and should therefore be approached as such.”  

    Such dishonesty is hardly likely to build any form of trust regarding these inspections, and reports back clearly identify that some are indeed conducted as such, not simply visits. It is reliably reported that at least 20 such inspections of Kent schools have taken place this term.

    However, astonishingly any insensitivity over the dishonesty has not stopped there. Today, Thursday 15th October is the day of the Kent Test when primary school leaders up and down the county are fully focused on ensuring their pupils will be able to take the test under the best possible conditions, especially given the additional pressures brought about by Coronavirus. Several Kent primary headteachers will, however, have their minds elsewhere as Ofsted has chosen to carry out inspections in their schools this day!

    Written on Thursday, 15 October 2020 00:09 Be the first to comment! Read more...
  • Sir Paul Carter, CBE, was appointed Knight Bachelor in Birthday Honours List

    Sir Paul Carter’s well-deserved honour is mainly in appreciation of his 14 years as Leader of Kent County Council for services to Local Government,  but I have known him for over 20 years in the field of education, where his passion, strong beliefs and understanding of what needs to be done to deliver the best for all the children of Kent has made a powerful impact on shaping the service. He and I first met when Paul was KCC Cabinet Member for Education before he became Leader, during which role he exhibited the same qualities. Although interested in all aspects of schooling, Paul’s main interests were in vocational and special education in both of which he has made a very strong mark.

    Sir Paul Carter

    Paul was often controversial, never afraid to pick up an issue, a true leader taking others with him, and a successful businessman in his own right. This appreciation will itself be controversial, for he has certainly made enemies in his determination to battle for the benefit of the people of Kent, and it could be argued that this award is long overdue, perhaps because he often took the fight for the people of Kent to government. You will find the KCC tribute to Sir Paul here, describing many of his other achievements.

    Written on Monday, 12 October 2020 23:46 Be the first to comment! Read more...
  • Elective Home Education & Children Missing from Education in Kent 2019-20

    In the first three weeks of September this year, 502 Kent families withdrew their children from school to Home Educate, compared to just 201 in the whole of September last year. This is wholly unsurprising as it follows the unique school year of 2018-19 when the large majority of children did not attend school for four whole months from the end of March. As a result, many families who might have been tempted to withdraw their children during that period will not have done so, but let the situation roll on to this term.

    Overall, 749 Kent children left school to take up what is known as Elective Home Education (EHE) in the whole of 2019-20, well down from the record 1310 children the previous year and bringing to a halt the sharp annual rise which saw the total increase by 70% over the previous four years. Another 544 children simply went missing from Kent schools, compared with 830 in 2017-18.

    The Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman, ascribed some of this term’s increase to ‘Anxious parents taking their children out of school to home-educate them, as widespread misinformation on social media fuels fears over the risks of Covid’. This was determined from a pilot study of 130 schools earlier this term. I suspect a greater factor is that families who made that decision from March onwards had no need to follow it through until September. 

    Written on Wednesday, 07 October 2020 17:53 1 comment Read more...