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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 1500 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.

Some more specific items appear in Peter's Blog, so its also worth checking there.  

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 life.

My Retirement from KentAdvice

I announced in two articles lower down the page, that I am winding down this KentAdvice website as from the beginning of the year. However, I have committed to following through some themes which I have started, that move the important notice that I am stepping down further down the page, as is now happening. In addition, issues like the crisis in primary school provision in Ebbsfleet, below, will perhaps arise as in this case when I was approached on the subject by KMTV and carried out some basic research in preparation. The two articles are, firstly My Retirement from www.kentadvice.co.uk, and secondly KentAdvice: Review of Seventeen Years of Support for Families.   

Friday, 02 November 2018 20:14

Exclusions Kent and Medway 2017-18

 Kent permanent exclusions have fallen by a remarkable 40% from last year to 49 pupils permanently excluded in 2017-18, in sharp contrast to nationally rising rates. No Kent school has more than five permanent exclusions. In 2011-12 there were an astonishing 210 Kent pupils permanently excluded more than any other Local Authority in the country, whereas now it is one of the very lowest. 

Other Headlines:

For 2016-17, even before this fall, Kent had the lowest rate of permanent exclusions in the South East. Kent fixed term exclusions have risen slightly to 10,698, an astonishing 11% or 1211 pupils of which are from one school, the secondary department of Folkestone Academy the rate of exclusion having shot up since 2016-17. Next comes Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academy with 786 exclusions. In 2016-17, the last year for which I have national comparisons, Kent fell below the national average for fixed term exclusions for the first time. 

For Medway, one sixth of the size of Kent, the 2017-18 provisional number of permanently excluded pupil, is 58 (there may be additional exclusions to record),  down from the previous year’s final figure of 65. Five of Medway’s 18 secondary schools have more than five permanent exclusions, headed up by Brompton Academy with 11. I don’t yet have the Medway data for Fixed Term Exclusions.

Friday, 26 October 2018 06:40

GCSE Performance for Medway Schools: 2018

The key measure of GCSE Performance is Progress 8 (full table here) .Under this measure Medway is slightly above the National Average of -0.02, at +0.02 (with just one school Well Below Average, contrasted with Kent's 15). Attainment 8 (full table here) has Medway just below the National score of 46.5, at 46.0.

Highlights:  Three grammar schools have Well Above Average Progress Grades led by Rochester Grammar, followed by Chatham Girls. Holcombe Grammar is at the foot with an Average Progress Grade coming below the non-selective Sir Thomas Aveling. Five of the six grammars have Attainment scores within three points of each other, again led by Rochester Grammar, with Holcombe  again limping along behind. Chatham Grammar Girls comes top for the percentage of pupils gaining Level 5 or better in English and Maths.

Amongst non-selective schools, pupils at Thomas Aveling and Rainham Girls score above Average Progress grades. The only school scoring Well below Average is unsurprisingly, Medway UTC. Rainham Girls leads Thomas Aveling in Attainment, with Victory Academy at the foot, just behind Medway UTC.

You will find all the individual outcomes for Medway schools here.

Friday, 19 October 2018 10:46

GCSE Performance for Kent Schools: 2018

The key measure of GCSE performance is Progress 8 (full table here) which looks at progress from the end of primary school to the end of Year 11, comparing pupils to others nationally, who begin from the same starting point, and is rightly given priority in measuring performance.  Under this measure, Kent is below the National Average of -0.02, at -0.08. Attainment 8 (full table here) simply measures what it says, with Kent above the National score of 46.5 at 47.1 although there is a variety of other statistics provided to choose from to suit your case, as explained below... 

Wye

Headlines: The excellent performance of two of Kent's three Free Schools in their first GCSE cohort is a key highlight of the data. Girls grammar schools continue to dominate the Progress 8 table, with eight out of the top twelve schools, all achieving Well Above Average Progress. The list is headed by Weald of Kent and Highworth Grammars, but with Bennett Diocesan Memorial (selecting on religious grounds), in third place. 

The bad news is that 15 schools have fallen under the government Floor Level, all with Well-Below Average Progress  and so potentially facing government intervention. This is more than double last year's figure of six schools, with four present in all three years of the new arrangements.  Government also has a measure of 'Coasting Schools', those with poor progress for three years, and Kent has 11 of these, including perhaps surprisingly five Ofsted 'Good Schools': Archbishop's; Homewood; Hugh Christie; North; and Sandwich Technology.  

Five of the top six grammar schools on attainment are unsurprisingly super-selective in West and North West Kent - along with Tunbridge Wells Girls', exactly as in both 2016 and 2017.  The Non-selective table is again led by Bennett Memorial, followed by Trinity School (Free) and Skinners Kent Academy. Five non-selective schools are at the foot of both Progress and Attainment Tables. 

Trinity 

Further information below, including the performance of many individual schools. The 2018 data for all Kent secondary schools is listed here, along with several other measures.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018 17:19

Kent and Medway School Appeal Outcomes: 2018

Note: The 11 plus exams forum has removed any indirect mention of this article or website, presumably as it wishes to deny its followers the information. 

This article looks at Year Seven and primary school admission appeals in Kent and Medway, conducted by Kent County Council, Medway Council and a number of private providers. Apart from a sharp fall in successful Kent grammar school appeals to 30% from 38%, other outcomes in Kent and Medway are very similar to the 2017 figures.

For individual schools, by far the largest individual difference follows the shambles at Holcombe Grammar School, which also saw a fall from 76% to 7% of appeals upheld.

As usual, there is no obvious pattern amongst non-selective schools, although I look at outcomes in each District below.

The four Dartford grammars had just 17 successful appeals between them, out of 407, Dartford Grammar having most appeals heard, at 129, closely followed by Wilmington Boys at 125. The highest success rates at Kent grammar schools in 2017 have come down from last year, although still led by Invicta Grammar at 77% (down from the 89% of 65 appeals in 2017).

Further details below, including primary appeals heard by Local Authority Panels. You will find appeal panel data (along with other information) for each secondary school in Kent and Medway here....

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.

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 one or more grammar schools and then appeal against decision of the schools 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.

Please do not post comments about individual situations. This is not a forum.  Feel free to use my contact me form with full information as requested if you live in Kent or Medway and are seeking advice on Kent or Medway schools only. 

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

You will find the parallel article for the Medway test here

Kent Test results have been published 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

You will find a full analysis of Medway Test and Review outcomes 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.....

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