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Peter Read

Medway Council continues to show contempt for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), after being forced to provide information exactly one year and five months after my initial request, and 43 minutes before the end of a final 35 day deadline the Commissioner set for delivery by 25th September 2018.

The information the council eventually yielded followed a request for data on Elective Home Education (EHE) and Exclusions in Medway schools for 2015-16. Given the extraordinarily high rates of both, these should surely indicate concerns the Council would wish to expose, rather than cover up. The time that elapsed included many months of the Council failing to respond to me at all, of inadequate and much delayed Internal Reviews, of false claims about the nature of the information and a meeting with the Council back in June 2018 arranged by the ICO. At the meeting I was promised full co-operation then and in the future, in the first instance to deliver the required information promptly, a promise which the Council then completely ignored.

Saturday, 13 October 2018 15:24

Donations

You will find on this website a tremendous amount of information and advice for families who have problems or seek advice on education matters in Kent and Medway. It is also widely followed by professionals who seek independent information relating to their local education service. The website and its predecessor have now been running for 14 years financed initially by my appeals service, from which I have now retired, apart from my telephone advisory service and income from a small number of advertisements. 

I continue to run the site because I firmly believe there is a need for the independent advice, information, news and comment relating to education matters it provides for families in Kent and Medway, and the many education professionals who also value the content. To the best of my knowledge, this remains a unique service across the country. 

However, it continues to take a large investment of time in keeping the many information pages up to date, preparing articles, each requiring considerable research and in some cases investigation, and providing informed responses to each enquirer.  

If you have found this site to be of value, can I therefore ask you to consider making a small donation of £10 to defray expenses and as a contribution towards the time and commitment i put in to bring this to you. 

You will find below, a simple mechanism to enable payment. 

If you are able to support me, I thank you. If not, feel free in any case to continue to use the material contained in www.kentadvice.co.uk,

Peter

Update: Important Advice - In response to multiple enquiries you cannot appeal the Kent Test Results; challenge the Head teacher Assessment or arrange a late HTA.  What you can do is apply for a grammar school and then appeal against a decision of the school to turn you down if your child did not pass the Kent Test. Please note I am still working through 200 enquiries since I published this article, too many of which request information freely available on the site via the information pages on the right hand side.

24 hours since publication,  over 5000 hits, a record. 

You will find the parallel article for the Medway test here

Kent Test results are being published later today, with the pass mark slightly higher than last year. This is no reflection on the difficulty of the Test as it will have been set as always to select the target percentage of Kent children going through at 21%. This year an automatic pass has been awarded to candidates scoring 107 on each of the three sections - English, mathematics, and reasoning – along with an aggregate score across the three sections of 323. Further details will follow as I receive them.

An additional number of children will have been found to be of grammar school standard through what is called the Headteacher Assessment, targeted to be 5% of the total cohort. You will find full details of the whole Kent Selection process here. Overall, these two processes last year yielded passes for 25.4% of Kent children in the age cohort.  

KCC make individual test scores available to parents who registered online from 5 p.m. today, Thursday, so there will no longer be the anxious wait or chasing up of primary schools for results of previous years.

As last year, I  shall be publishing a second article later when I receive more data from KCC.

The number of out of county children who have passed the Kent test continues to rise inexorably, with a further 11% being found selective over the 2017 test (contrast this to the 46% increase in Medway). However, the number being offered places in Kent grammar schools has stabilised and was even slightly lower at 465 for 2018 admissions (468 in 2017).  

Wednesday, 10 October 2018 00:25

Turner Schools Part 3: Folkestone Academy

This is my third article on The Turner Schools Trust which operates three academies and one Free School in Folkestone, a town described recently by a Turner Schools speaker as comparable with an American rust-bucket city.

TurnerSchools

The start of term saw Chief Executive Dr Jo Saxton addressing the staff of Folkestone Academy on the subject of the school's dreadful 2018 GCSE results. She informed them that these were the result of five years of poor teaching. It did not go down well especially as these are a sharp fall from the solid outcomes of 2017, after more than a year of Turner School oversight.  Nevertheless the school website falsely reports Folkestone Academy as ‘Celebrating an Encouraging Uptick in Students Securing Top Grades’  (uptick – a financial term relating to small increases in share price).

2017-18 saw a teaching staff turnover of 33.1%, more than twice the average of local secondary schools but in line with them, according to the Trust.

Contrary to claims by Turner Trust, the opening of Turner Free School has badly hit the Folkestone Academy intake with a fall of over a quarter in its new Year Seven numbers.

On the strength of its 'success' in Folkestone, Turner Schools is, according to yet another exclusive article in the TES, contemplating opening a university to follow on from its Sixth Forms in Folkestone. Many would argue it needs to show it can run its two secondary schools successfully before even thinking about developing this further vision.  

Turner Schools uniquely (?) refuses to follow the Freedom of Information Code of Practice about handling Requests for Information....

Monday, 08 October 2018 20:09

Medway Test 2018: Initial Information

 You will find the parallel article for the Kent test here

The pass mark for the Medway Test for 2019 admission is an aggregate score of 492. This is calculated by adding together the score on the Verbal Reasoning Test together with twice the score on each of the mathematics and extended writing tests.

Although this is the lowest figure for some years it is no indication of the difficulty of the test. It is simply related to the proportion of the Year Group which sat the Test. The higher the proportion the lower the pass mark, as a result of what is called Local Standardisation, as explained here. You will find another information article on Review and Appeal here. Data for individual Medway schools including oversubscription levels and appeal outcomes here.

Whilst just 17 more Medway pupils passed the test than in 2017, a total of 773 children, the big news is that the number of out of county children passing the Medway Test has leapt by nearly 50% to 914, which will have considerable consequences for pressure on places. Councillor Andrew Mackness, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, said: 'Well done to everyone who sat the Medway Test. It is pleasing to see that more children than ever took the Medway Test highlighting the popularity of our excellent grammar schools'.   Presumably he is not aware of the consequences, as explored below. 

You will find the answer to most questions about whether to apply for a Review in the article on Review and Appeal.....

You will find the corresponding Primary article here. Special Schools and PRUs to follow. 

No Kent or Medway secondary schools were found Outstanding in 2017-18. However, the 79% of Kent schools classified as Good by Ofsted compares well with the national figure of 68% Good or Outstanding up to March this year. In Medway 75% of schools were classified as Good.

Three schools were found Inadequate. I have previously reported on the recent history of Holmesdale School in Snodland as it plunged from Good to Special Measures in four years, but the tragic story continues, below. Royal Harbour Academy, like Holmesdale not an academy but one of the few secondary schools still the responsibility of KCC, is weighed down by multiple challenges and was found to Require Significant Improvement in July. The Medway UTC, just three years old was put into Special Measures, the Report and other factors adding up to a disgrace that should shame everyone concerned, although no doubt the governors carry on regardless of the damage they have done to children’s education and prospects.

You will find a profile for each Kent and Medway secondary school, including Ofsted outcomes, by following the links. All Ofsted Reports are available here. Further information on significant Ofsted decisions below....

You will find the corresponding Secondary article here. Special Schools and PRUs to follow.

A previous article reported on Ofsted Reports up to Easter; this one completes primary school outcomes for the school year 2017-18 with a Review of the whole year.

The headline statement in Kent is that primary school performance continues to rise and outperform the national picture, the improvement being predominantly due to a strong performance from academies against a slight fall for Local Authority schools.

In Medway whilst there is an improvement in grades of schools assessed, this is almost entirely due to stronger schools being inspected with no overall movement amongst individual schools. 

Hernhill 3  Reculver St Mary of Charity

 In Kent, 89% of schools achieved Good or Outstanding outcomes, against a national figure up to March 2018 of  86%. 17 schools improved their grading against 11 that declined. Three were found Outstanding: St Mary of Charity CofE, Faversham and Reculver CofE, both up three places from an Inadequate assessment (and both after academisation with Aquila, the Diocese of Canterbury Academy Trust); and Hernhill CofE up one from Good. The excellent Ofsted outcomes are of course built in part on Key Stage Two performance last summer. 

Meanwhile Medway schools achieved 75% Good or Outstanding from 20 schools, a big rise from last year’s dreadful 62%. However, just two schools improved their rating against two that declined, showing it is more a matter of the schools inspected rather than any improvement in performance. Just one Outstanding school, Luton Juniors, up from Good.

Luton Junior

You will find further details below, along with a look at notable outcomes for individual schools. In nearly every case good or bad, the key issue is leadership, rather than whether a school is an academy or Local Authority maintained. Every individual primary school Ofsted assessment over recent years is also recorded in the Information pages for Kent and Medway primary schools on this site. 

The Schools Adjudicator, responsible for deciding on school admission policy disputes, has ruled that the determined admission arrangements for 2019 for these three schools are in breach of the Schools Admissions Code and ordered them to be changed. This will ensure that the new rules are fairer to local children or, in the case of The Rochester Grammar School, that more appropriately qualified girls are admitted.

Three other schools acknowledged the validity of my complaint at an early stage and withdrew their proposals. These were: Brompton Academy, Hundred of Hoo Academy and Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School.

Medway Council, with oversight of school admission rules published on its website, neither took action to block the unlawful proposals (if indeed they noticed them), nor bothered to express a view on their legality to the Schools Adjudicator when invited. There has been just one complaint about a Kent school's proposals since 2012 (relating to In-Year Admissions), as KCC monitors proposed changes. 

To look at the decisions in detail follow the links: Fort Pitt; Holcombe Grammar; The Rochester Grammar, with my analysis below.

Monday, 10 September 2018 23:42

Academy News: September 2018

I am afraid this regular update is well overdue because of pressures elsewhere. I will be publishing a second article shortly (I hope) but this one is primarily about new and proposed academies and the increasing practice of re-assigning academies to other Trusts when there has been a break down of performance in some way. 

Panorama, 10th September: Financial Mismanagement in Academy Trusts
This is a subject that I have explored many times in these pages, most commonly in the scandal of Lilac Sky Academy Trust and more recently with The SchoolsCompany Academy Trust. I have enclosed a comment outlining the issues with the two Trusts at the foot of this page. 

Another ten schools have become academies this year, bringing the Kent total to 89% out of 101 secondary schools including applications in progress, and 37% of 456 primaries. In Medway 16 out of 17 secondary schools and 54 of the 79 primaries are academies. You will find all the latest conversions below, along with new applications to become academies, and a full list of Kent and Medway academies here.

The number of Multi Academy Trusts continues to proliferate, some with ever more exotic names; you will find a full list of Kent and Medway Trusts here.

Update: See recent development at foot of article

I don’t normally comment on private schools, but the closure of St Christopher’s in Canterbury over the summer surely deserves a mention at a time when scrutiny of the Kent Test taken in private schools is in the news.

The school has now been found Inadequate in two consecutive full Ofsted Inspections, most recently in April this year, the first of which I covered in a previous article entitled ‘Buyer Beware: Four Private Schools failed OFSTED Inspection’. The other three have since improved their standards under new leaderships.

St Christopher's

The first of the two key issues in both Inspections was poor leadership, the headteacher, known as ‘The Master’ also being one of the proprietors of the school, ‘A substantial number of staff have lost confidence in the school’s proprietors and leaders’ in 2018, echoing concerns in 2014. Secondly, both inspections describe a culture of poor management of complaints and allegations which, along with inappropriate behaviour, saw the school fail on Safeguarding twice, the second time apparently oblivious of previous criticisms. There is also a range of other serious criticisms, although teaching is described as Good, pinpointing where the problems lie. 

The school claimed very high success rates at the Kent Test which fell below the genuine figures and in 2017 it was instructed by the Advertising Standards Authority to remove false claims of a 92% pass rate from the sides of local buses. For entry this September, the success rate for grammar school admission had fallen to 57%. Ofsted is quite clear about the purpose of the school: ‘many are able to achieve a place at local grammar schools, in line with the school’s aims’.

Pupil numbers were falling sharply before the closure, presumably because of the poor reputation of the school.

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