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News & Comments - Kent Independent Education Advice

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.

Update 24th January: Royal Harbour Academy has been found to Require Improvement by Ofsted today, up from 'Requires Significant Improvement. This leaves just Holmesdale School as the only Kent secondary school in Special Measures.

The Chief Ofsted Inspector has published her Annual Report for 2018-19, available here. The year has been very successful overall for both Kent and Medway schools being inspected, with all categories outperforming national data. I have explored these in two previous articles, the first looking at secondary school Ofsted Reports  which show both grammar and non-selective schools in Kent and Medway performing comfortably above the national average in Progress and Attainment. At primary level, both Authorities again outperformed national data, this time with academies noticeably achieving higher levels and improved assessments against Local Authority schools. A third article on Special School Inspections will follow shortly. 

Rightly, Ofsted is concerned about ‘stuck schools’ and I look at each of the ten stuck schools in Kent and three in Medway below, discovering that this is a very broad category. I am also preparing a follow up article  looking at two other issues on which the Report focuses: schools where there is potentially off-rolling and excessive movement of pupils: and school exclusions, with Kent enjoying the fourth lowest proportion of permanent exclusions in the country.


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Wednesday, 15 January 2020 18:40

Academy and Free School News January 2020

Important Update to EKC section below with a message to all Local Authority Governing Bodies 

This article first looks at the two new Free Schools opened in Dartford in September: Stone Lodge School (secondary) and River Mill Primary. Six schools have become academies: Dartford Bridge Community Primary School; Horsmonden Primary; Paddock Wood Primary; Rolvenden PrimarySt Katherine’s Primary; and Wainscott Primary. A group of primary schools in East Kent are  proposing to academise together: Briary; Bysing Wood; Holywell; and QueenboroughSunny Bank School  in Sittingbourne has an Academy Order. The re-brokering of the failed Delce Academy; the Private Finance Initiative and academy conversion; a roundup of the names and numbers of Kent and Medway academies, and various other academy matters.


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In 2015 Government introduced Phase Two of the Priority School Building Programme, to rebuild or refurbish individual blocks of accommodation at 277 schools using capital grant and are scheduled to hand over by the end of 2023. 13 of these are in Kent and a further two are in Medway. This article looks at progress of the project in the local schools to benefit, which were as follows. Kent Primary schools: Barton Junior; Benenden Church of England Primary; Colliers Green Church of England Primary; & Platt Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School. Kent secondary schools: The Abbey School; Dover Grammar Boys; The Folkestone School for Girls; Hartsdown Technology College; High Weald Academy; Mayfield Grammar; Pent Valley Technology College; Simon Langton Girls' Grammar; Swadelands. Medway secondary schools: St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive and The Howard School.

Key words in the project are: ‘using capital grant’, as the previous programme of Building Schools for the Future relied heavily on commercial loans under the now largely discredited Private Finance Initiative. Whilst many schools benefited hugely from this project, the financial implications are crippling, as can be seen in several previous articles on this site, including here, with a full analysis by ShepwayVox here.  In this second phase more schools qualify under ‘a block replacement based on poor condition.  Only in exceptional circumstances will a whole school be replaced’ . At least three of the projects described below appear to come into the ‘exceptional circumstances’ category. At the foot of this article is a list of all the previous successful BSF Schools in Kent.


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Last week, Kent County Council moved a step closer to introducing the proposed Grammar School Annexe of Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys in Sevenoaks. This will parallel the girls annexe on the same site, which has been operating since 2017. Two boys’ grammar schools, Gravesend and Norton Knatchbull, have been awarded funding by KCC to meet major housing expansions in Ashford and Ebbsfleet respectively, and I also look at the next round of the Grammar School Expansion Fund decisions planned for the Autumn of 2019, but delayed presumably because of the General Election.

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The latest published government list of Approved Free Schools in Kent and Medway, up to October 2019 and still in the pre-opening stage, lists the 15 schools below. Most of these have been considered in previous articles, brought up to date here. Several have been waiting for many years with as yet no sign of progress.
 
There is a separate Information Page on Kent and Medway's planned and opened Free Schools here
 
The new schools are: Alkerden School (secondary, likely to be all through), Ebbsfleet; Aspire Special School, Sittingbourne; Barton Manor School (secondary), Canterbury; Bearsted Primary Academy, Maidstone; Chilmington Green Secondary Academy, Ashford; Ebbsfleet Green Primary School; Leigh Academy RainhamMargate Presumption; Rochester Riverside CofE Primary School; School of Science and Technology Maidstone; Springhead Park Primary School, Gravesham (Ebbsfleet); Snowfields Academy (Special School), Bearsted, Maidstone; St Andrew’s Primary Free School, Paddock Wood; The Beeches (Alternative Provision Primary Centre), Chatham;  The Maritime Academy, Strood.
 
Fuller details on all these schools below. Delays in the two new secondary schools in Medway will be causing problems in secondary provision in September this year, explored below

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 In his last action just twenty minutes before standing down as Leader of Kent County Council on October 17th, Paul Carter vetoed the proposal to build a new non-selective school in Thanet on the grounds that population numbers had not risen as fast as forecast. Instead he stated that what Thanet needed was better schools rather than additional ones, and that the financial cost to Kent was not necessary.

Preceding this decision, the Kent Schools Commissioning Plan 2019-2023 stated that: The new secondary Free School has been commissioned on the site of the former Royal School for the Deaf. The Howard Academy Trust has been confirmed as the successful sponsor via the DfE Free School Presumptive process. The School will open in temporary accommodation in 2020 with 120 Year 7 places, and in 2021 on the new site as a 6FE school. The support of existing schools will be required to provide temporary Year 7 places for 2019 until the new school is delivered.

KCC’s Scrutiny Committee on 19th November considered Mr Carter’s decision as reported here, pp 17 – 28, and I have considered it in detail below. The two key outcomes of the Open part of this meeting were: firstly it appears clear that the decision to veto the original decision was the right one even if the alternative proposed would create other problems and; secondly that KCC officers were seriously wrong in their number planning as demonstrated by KCC’s own Commissioning Plan and my simple charts below, their excuses for not noticing the population trend not standing up to scrutiny and with no one to be held accountable for this debacle. A subsequent closed session may well have looked at the data, but we don't know. 


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This article considers the consequences of a letter sent out to parents by Seamus Murphy, the new Executive Headteacher of Folkestone Academy. It is a revision of my original article. The letter expresses concern about the high rates of lateness and absence, the school having the second highest rate of absence of any secondary school in Kent (22nd in the country) and also of persistent absence (21st in the country). The following paragraph begins: ‘I believe that pupils need to be in school to achieve and rather than use exclusions I will be holding Saturday detentions from 9 to 11 p.m. I will expect parents to accompany their children in full uniform to school if they receive a Saturday detention for significantly failing to follow Academy procedures’. Quite understandably, many parents and local and national media connected the two paragraphs and saw them as cause and effect.
 
After several media attempts to pin Mr Murphy down, he explained in a Kentonline Podcast that the main reason for awarding a Saturday detention would be because some students were not in lessons often enough, or had missed other detentions, sometimes given for being late in school, so not a lot different! 
TurnerSchools
 Two massive and astonishing new statistics underline a fresh crisis facing the school. The October 2019 schools census shows that the school has seen both its Year Seven and Sixth Form rolls fall by over a third in two years, explored below  
 
Just to prove I don’t always find fault with the school I must heap extravagant praise on Turner Free School for the amazing, wonderful and brilliant first two terms this year – see below.

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 Updated 17th December
Key Stage Two school performance for 2019 tables were published on Friday, with 68% of Kent pupils meeting the expected standard for the second year running, comfortably above the national average which was 65%. Medway was once again below average, although this year narrowing the gap, at 64%. Congratulations to Stowting CofE Primary School, Ashford, which was the top school in all the three major categories explored below: Progress, Achievement, and Proportion of pupils achieving higher grades. Also of special note is Royal Rise Primary School in Tonbridge, its most recent Ofsted placing it in Special Measures, but now taken over by Cygnus Academies Trust, and performed highly in both Progress and Achievement, to become the highest performing school in Tonbridge.  

Stowting Pic   Copy     Royal Rise   Copy

Government’s key measure is progress from Key Stage One (end of Infant stage at age seven) through to Key Stage Two, in Reading Writing and Mathematics. The best overall Progress performances were by: Stowting CofE, Ashford, 19.3; Oaks Primary (Academy), Maidstone, 17.2; Joy Lane Foundation, Whitstable, & New Horizons (A), Chatham, 16.9; Hernhill CofE, Canterbury, 16.7; St Mary of Charity CofE (A), Faversham; 16.5; and Kings Farm, Gravesend, 16.4. Six of the highest performers have been in Special Measures in the past five years which, although not recommended, appears to have acted as a spur - five after academisation. 

In Kent, five schools saw every pupil achieve the expected achievement standard set by government but, apart from Sibertswold CofE, Dover each of the others had small age groups of between seven and twelve pupils! Next came: Ramsgate, Holy Trinity CofE with 97%; St Margaret's at Cliffe, 96%; Chilton (A),  Ramsgate; and Temple Ewell CofE (A), Dover, both with 95%, again with a preponderance of East Kent schools, along with the next schools in the list.  Top performers in Medway by this standard were Pilgrim (A), Medway, and St Helen’s CofE, Cliffe, both with 90% of pupils achieving the expected standard.

There are plenty of opportunities for many schools to claim a top position in one or more of these categories, as shown in the following sections. For definitions and full details of performance consult the Government websites for Kent and Medway. The article concludes with some advice to parents trying to select a primary school for their children.....


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